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Kevin Pillar under MLB investigation for use of homophobic slurs in Wednesday’s game

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Pillar struck out on a quick pitch from Atlanta reliever Jason Motte.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Toronto Blue Jays John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Blue Jay outfielder Kevin Pillar is currently under investigation by Major League Baseball for the use of homophobic slurs in yesterday's game against the Atlanta Braves, per Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.

Pillar, who struck out swinging, was unhappy with pitcher Jason Motte's quick-pitch to end the at-bat. Prior to walking towards the dugout, Pillar directed an apparent homophobic slur towards Motte. The benches cleared, but umpire Brian O'Nora deescalated the situation before any punches could be thrown.

"It was immature, it was stupid, it was uncalled for," Pillar told Davidi after the game. "Quick pitches are part of the game, it's just, I'm a competitive guy and heat of the moment. 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."

Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun confirmed Thursday that Pillar's "part of the game" comment was, indeed, regarding the quick pitch, not the use of derogatory vocabulary.

“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 home stand 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 [against] Seattle. That just all came out in that moment.”

Pillar issued the following apology on Twitter Thursday afternoon.

Last night, following my at-bat in the 7th inning, I used inappropriate language towards Braves pitcher Jason Motte. By doing so I had just helped extend the use of a word that has no place in baseball, in sports or anywhere in society today. I’m completely and utterly embarrassed and feel horrible to have put the fans, my teammates and the Blue Jays organization in this position. I have apologized personally to Jason Motte, but also need to apologize to the Braves organization and their fans, and most importantly, to the LGBTQ community for the lack of respect I displayed last night. This is not who I am and will use this as an opportunity to better myself.

In response to the investigation, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins traveled to Atlanta late Thursday morning to meet with Pillar, according to Laura Armstrong of the Toronto Star. “[Blue Jays] say club is taking alleged Kevin Pillar homophobic slur ‘seriously’,” Armstrong tweeted.

The Blue Jays released the following statement Thursday afternoon.

The Toronto Blue Jays are extremely disappointed by the comments made by Kevin Pillar following his at-bat during the 7th inning of last night’s game. In no way is this kind of behavior accepted or tolerated, nor is it a reflection of the type of inclusive organization we strive to be. We would like to extend our own apologies to all fans, Major League Baseball and especially the LGBTQ community.

We know Kevin to be a respectful, high-character individual who we hope will learn from this situation and continue to positively contribute and live up to our values on and off the field.

Yesterday's incident is slightly reminiscent of 2012, when then-Blue Jay infielder Yunel Escobar was suspended three games after playing a game with the Spanish words, "TU ERE MARICON" written on his eye black. The words directly translate to a homophobic slur. There are few other historical instances within baseball that represent a possible punishment for Pillar's actions, but the action that the league takes can be expected to be less severe than that taken against Escobar, as the slur was spoken and off-the-cuff, instead of planned.

The Blue Jays and Braves play the final game of their four-game, two-city series tonight at 7:35 ET.


Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkColley.