Blue Jays hand Pillar two-game suspension

May 18th, 2017

ATLANTA -- In a joint decision between the Blue Jays and Major League Baseball on Thursday, Toronto suspended center fielder two games for his use of a homophobic slur during Toronto's 8-4 loss to the Braves on Wednesday night.

Toronto made its decision on Thursday morning after discussions with Pillar, the league and the MLB Players Association. The details still have to be worked out, but Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said Pillar's salary for the next two games, plus an undisclosed fine, will be donated to a couple of organizations supporting the LGBTQ community.

Pillar issued a statement on Thursday afternoon in which he expressed deep remorse for his use of a slur that was directed at Braves reliever following a strikeout in the top of the seventh inning. Pillar had taken exception to a quick pitch from Motte and he responded with the derogatory comment, which prompted the dugouts on both sides to empty.

"I really felt embarrassed for myself, for my family, for this organization," Pillar said when speaking to reporters on Thursday. "I was ashamed, but I understand that I stand here with an opportunity to turn this into something that is going to be very positive. I have the ability to be made an example of, and I'm willing to accept that. Hopefully my teammates, Major League Baseball, other sports, people in society are going to learn from this.

"There's no place for this type of language on a baseball field, at home, in the clubhouse, with your friends, in the privacy of your home. There are words out there that are offensive to a lot of people regardless of how you use them or when you say them."

Pillar mentioned that in the heat of the moment he understood a big mistake had been made, but he didn't realize it would lead to this "magnitude" of attention. Video of the incident quickly went viral and Pillar was made aware of the reaction on social media. He spoke to his agent on the phone around 2 a.m. ET and the two decided to sleep on it before making an official statement.

Pillar hopes that this will be used as a learning experience for others, and he vowed to make things right. Pillar personally reached out to apologize to Motte, and his statement extended that apology to the Braves' organization, all baseball fans and the LGBTQ community. He also seemed very well aware that this is only the first step in the healing process, not only for him, but also more importantly for those who were offended by his comments.

"I talked to my wife and we talked about what happened, and she was just as confused as I was about the choice of words," Pillar said. "It's not a word that I use. Ever. It's something that's not even part of my vocabulary. It's just something that came out, and I'm going to do my best in turning this very awful situation into something good. That starts right now."

Atkins flew into Atlanta on Thursday to deal with the fallout. He had a closed-door meeting with Pillar and manager John Gibbons late Thursday afternoon before all three parties addressed reporters. Atkins mentioned that the organization has reached out to Billy Bean, who is MLB's vice president of social responsibility and inclusion and a special assistant to Commissioner Rob Manfred. Together they will decide on what steps the organization and Pillar should take to continue the healing process and help rectify the situation.

The details and specifics will be worked out in the near future, but for now Atkins wanted to focus on accountability. He said Pillar and the entire organization had failed its fan base on multiple levels, and the Blue Jays will do everything in their power to turn this unfortunate incident into a positive.

"We pride ourselves on respecting other people, it's one of our core values," Atkins said. "That's all walks of life -- all communities, all people and anyone that this organization touches in some way -- and we failed to do that over the last 24 hours. Secondarily, we recognize and realize that we have a responsibility and a platform to heighten sensitivities, increase inclusiveness. We've also failed to do that over the last 24 hours. I will say, we will be accountable. I'm very glad that Kevin has decided to be accountable as well."