Kevin Pillar, the center fielder for the Toronto Blue Jays, faces tough criticism today from fans and the baseball and LGBTQ communities after the use of a homophobic slur in last night's game against the Atlanta Braves. The incident occurred during the 7th inning, as Pillar was up to bat against the Braves' relief pitcher, Jason Motte.

The Jays traveled to Atlanta for Wednesday night's game after losing two blowouts to the Braves at home. Down by five runs in the 7th inning, Motte threw Pillar a quick pitch, resulting in a strikeout which ended the inning. In the heat of the moment, Pillar can be seen yelling something at Motte as he tossed his bat and helmet off to the side.

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The home plate umpire gets in between Pillar and Motte but that doesn't stop the dugouts and bullpens from clearing on both sides, rushing to their player's defense.

Pillar admits to wrongdoing

Following the game Pillar talked to reporters stating that his use of the slur (which started with the letter 'F') "stemmed from frustration..." He also said, "It was immature, it was stupid, it was uncalled for." Critics say that Pillar's apology was going well until he said it was part of the game. TSN Radio commentators tried to defend Pillar, saying that he meant that losing your cool is part of the game, not the uttering of homophobic slurs.

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Today, Pillar issued another apology, this time via his Twitter stating that he had personally apologized to Jason Motte for what he said, further stating that the slur has no place in baseball. The center fielder said that he is embarrassed and that he will use this opportunity to better himself.

The Toronto Blue Jays organization has also issued their own statement concerning the incident which they took to their social media platforms to share. The Jays did not condone the player's comments, saying that they are 'extremely disappointed' by Kevin Pillar and that they did not want the comments to be looked at as a reflection of the type of inclusive club the Blue Jays strives to be.

#Major League Baseball (MLB), the governing body of professional baseball, has confirmed that they are looking into the allegations against Kevin Pillar.

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Looking toward punishment

Now that Kevin Pillar has apologized and the MLB is looking into his comments, the conversation is turning to punishment; what should become of one of the Blue Jays' hottest players in the aftermath of this homophobic slur?

In 2013, Major League Baseball instituted a workplace code of conduct which included a zero-tolerance policy in terms of harassment or discrimination based on sexual orientation. The rules officially state that no manager, player, umpire, batboy, etc is allowed to, “Use language which will in any manner refer to or reflect upon opposing players, an umpire, or any spectator.”

But what is the precedent in this case? For the Blue Jays, it comes in the case of shortstop Yunel Escobar. In September 2012 (before the new harassment policy was put into place), the shortstop wore under eye black stickers with the Spanish phrase “TU ERE MARICON” written on them in a game against the Boston Red Sox. This phrase most commonly translates to "You are a f****t." For this offense, Escobar was only suspended for 3 games, which was widely criticized as not being long enough, considering the pre-mediated nature of his actions.

Many Toronto and baseball fans, in general, are calling for the Blue Jays organization to act, and fast. They fans and critics want action to prevent more homophobic remarks like Pillar's in baseball. The organization #You Can Play, which has partnerships with many professional sports leagues, commends Pillar for taking ownership of his remarks but they call for more, a leadership role in trying to separate homophobia from baseball. You Can Play president and co-founder Brian Kitts even stated that "...a homophobic slur doesn't have to define Kevin."