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Kevin Pillar appears to yell homophobic slur in Braves game

NEWS STAFF, SPORTSNET.CA AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Thursday, May 18th, 2017

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Still image of Toronto Blue Jays player Kevin Pillar after striking out in the seventh inning against Atlanta Braves pitcher Jason Motte at SunTrust Park on May 18, 2017.

A rough game for the Toronto Blue Jays – a third straight loss to the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night – turned ugly in the late innings.

After being struck out by Braves pitcher Jason Motte in the seventh inning, Kevin Pillar appeared to shout a homophobic slur at him. Moments later, both benches leapt up.

“It was immature, it was stupid, it was uncalled for,” Pillar said of his exchange with the reliever. Motte waved over a quick pitch for strike three to end the seventh inning. “[Quick pitches] are part of the game, it’s just, I’m a competitive guy and heat of the moment,” Pillar said after the game.

“Obviously I’m going to do whatever I’ve got to do to reach out and apologize and let him know he didn’t do anything wrong, it was all me,” Pillar added. “Obviously something to learn from, something to move on from. Don’t let it define me, but really I think it was just frustration from coming off a really good homestand and really just not even being in any of these ball games, just coming out flat and not being able to build on what we were able to build (versus) Seattle. That just all came out in that moment.”

Back in 2012, when Yunuel Escobar had a slur written on his eye black, it caused quite a stir. He was suspended, and it spawned many opinion pieces about homophobia in baseball.

Although it is unclear if Pillar will face any discipline, his comment did cause a response on Twitter.

“Heat of the moment or not, simply having that word in your vocabulary makes you a bad person. Inexcusable, Pillar,” @ReesorBoy wrote.

Neither the Blue Jays or Major League Baseball have commented on the incident.

After the Pillar incident, the benches emptied in the eighth inning after Jose Bautista homered to left, standing at home plate and staring toward incoming pitcher Eric O’Flaherty before flipping the bat away with a towering toss. Jace Peterson said something to Bautista as he rounded first, and Suzuki was waiting for Bautista when he touched home.

No punches were thrown, but O’Flaherty didn’t mince words about Bautista’s actions.

“That’s something making the game tough to watch,” the pitcher said, referring to previous home run celebrations by the Toronto slugger. “It’s turned into look-at-me stuff. He hit a home run with (the Braves holding) a five-run lead and throws the bat around. I’m just tired of it. I’ve seen it from him enough.”

The Blue Jays ended up losing the game 8-4.

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