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Blue Jays suspend Kevin Pillar for two games

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The Blue Jays have suspended outfielder Kevin Pillar two games for his use of a homophobic slur at Braves reliever Jason Motte on Wednesday, Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reports. Davidi notes that the decision to levy the suspension was done in consultation with Major League Baseball and the players’ union. Pillar’s forfeited salary will be donated, but the Jays have not yet decided on a recipient, though it will likely be an LGBTQ organization.

Both the Jays and Pillar issued public apologies on Thursday and Major League Baseball said it is investigating the incident.

Pillar has started in center field for each of the Jays’ 41 games this season. The Jays are still shorthanded due to injuries, so Chris Coghlan or Darrell Ceciliani may draw a start in the outfield while Pillar serves his suspension.

Phillies sign Francisco Liriano and Neil Walker to minor league deals

Francisco Liriano
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Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.

Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.

Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.