The Toronto Blue Jays have suspended center fielder Kevin Pillar for his use of a homophobic slur in a game with the Atlanta Braves.
Pillar - the leading hitter on the Blue Jays team this season - directed the slur at Braves reliever Jason Motte following a strikeout in the top of the seventh inning.
The derogatory comment made by Pillar resulted in the dugouts on both sides emptying as tempers flared. Toronto lost Wednesday night's road game 8-4.
Pillar later apologised via social media before the Blue Jays released a statement.
The Blue Jays took the decision to suspend the 28-year-old for two matches after talks with Pillar, Major League Baseball [MLB] and the MLB Players' Association.
Pillar's salary for the two games in addition to an undisclosed fine will also be donated to LGBTQ community organisations.
LeBron James and the Cavaliers are headed back to a familiar place after sweeping aside another outclassed opponent.
James scored 35 points and Kyrie Irving 27 as Cleveland eased past Toronto, beating the Raptors 109-102 on Sunday to give James his seventh consecutive trip to the NBA Eastern Conference Finals.
"It's rewarding when you can advance," James said. "It's not just given to you, you have to go out and earn it.
"Once again I'm part of a team that's been able to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. It's going to be my ninth time in 14 years. I'll take those numbers."
Kyle Korver scored 18 points to help the Cavaliers become the first team to win eight straight play-off games the year following a title, and the first team to win eight straight in consecutive post-seasons.
"The fact that we play our best basketball in the post-season lets us know that we're up for the challenge," said James, who had nine rebounds and six assists.
"When LeBron is shooting the 3 ball the way he is, at the rate he's shooting it, they're difficult," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. "It's going to take a Herculean effort to beat them."
The Cavs will face either the Celtics and Wizards - currently tied at 2-2 - in the the Eastern Conference Finals.
Cleveland star LeBron James finished with 39 points as the Cavaliers beat Toronto Raptors 125-103, and take a 2-0 lead in their NBA play-off series.
James has now passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for second place on the NBA's all-time play-off scoring list, and has Michael Jordan in his sights.
James moved ahead of Abdul-Jabbar (5,762 points) with his 27th point in Cleveland's victory on Wednesday and also joined Ray Allen, Reggie Miller and Manu Ginobili as only the fourth player in league history to make 300 play-off three-pointers in a career.
Jordan heads the career play-off scoring list with 5,987 points but James could pass him with an extended run this postseason with the Cavaliers, who are seeking their third consecutive finals appearance.
"I have taken advantage of the opportunity I have been given," said James.
"It was always my dream as a kid to be part of this league. I had a gift and I didn't take it for granted, and I still don't, even at 32.
"When you hear a name like Kareem who has done so many great things, winning championships in the 1980s, and how many points he put up.
"I didn't actually get a chance to watch him growing up but I read about his accomplishments, so it is pretty cool."
James has been enjoying a superb play-off campaign, averaging 33.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, eight assists, and 2.6 steals per game coming into Wednesday.
Toronto's DeMar DeRozan said: "You find somebody to stop LeBron in these moments, I'll give you $100."
Kawhi Leonard scored a game-high 34 points as the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Houston Rockets 121-96 on Wednesday to level their play-off series at 1-1.
Leonard also delivered eight assists and seven rebounds for the Spurs, who now travel to Houston for games three and four of the best-of-seven second round Western Conference series.
"We were focused," Leonard said. "We lost by 30 points last game, so we didn't want to disappoint the fans."
But San Antonio's win could prove to be costly, because of an injury to guard Tony Parker.
The Frenchman had to be carried off the floor by team-mates with 8:43 remaining after suffering a left leg injury.
Asher was placed on the disabled list at Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Friday with a lower calf contusion, Andrew Kulp of CSN Philadelphia reports. The move was retroactive to May 18.
Asher suffered the injury when he was hit in the leg by a batted ball toward the end of his last start. He has been pitching well since returning to Triple-A at the end of April. He is 3-0 with a 1.53 ERA and a 19:3 K:BB in 29.1 innings for Lehigh Valley.
Herrmann went 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBI Friday at the Cardinals.
Herrmann drove in the first two runs of the game before adding an insurance run with his fifth bomb of the year in the ninth inning of a game the Diamondbacks would win. He's now hit safely in 10 of 12 games this month, and in those 40 at-bats he's slashing .400/.432/.750.
BOCA RATON, Fla. — To further exemplify Brian Cashman’s mantra that he is open to talking about any player on his roster, the Yankees have discussed Brett Gardner with the Mariners, The Post has learned.
No trade discussions were characterized as far along or specifically targeted to just one team. Nevertheless, Gardner has long been a player that new Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto has liked going back to his time as an executive with the Diamondbacks and Angels. The Mariners, in fact, as part of the six-player trade done last week with Tampa obtained center field prospect Boog Powell, who is commonly compared to Gardner in projecting his future.
Powell, though, is not expected to be ready to open the 2016 season and the Mariners are in win-now mode. They have identified as a priority adding on-base skills in front of a lineup middle of Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager. Only two of the 11 Mariners who came to the plate at least 200 times last year had a better on-base percentage than Gardner’s .343.
The Yankees are particularly looking for high-end starting pitching that they control for seven years because all of their current starters, except Luis Severino and Adam Warren, can be free agents after either the 2016 or 2017 campaign. The Mariners essentially will not talk about Taijuan Walker. But The Post has learned they would discuss 27-year-old lefty James Paxton, whose delivery has reminded folks of Andy Pettitte. Paxton was among the pitchers the Yankees were looking at more intensely late in the season and now in the Arizona Fall League under the belief they could become available in the offseason.
Paxton missed four months in 2015 with a strained middle finger on his pitching hand, and has health concerns. Nevertheless, he has been effective when pitching in the majors, going 12-8 with a 3.16 ERA in parts of three seasons (30 career starts). He is pitching in the Arizona Fall League, where he was 1-3 with a 4.43 ERA in five starts.
Gardner is known as a Cashman favorite, emerged as a team leader last year after the retirement of Derek Jeter and is one of the few high-end athletes in the Yankees’ everyday lineup. Nevertheless, he is 32 and has three years at $39.5 million left on his contract at a time when Cashman is trying to create payroll flexibility because his budget is being restrained this offseason.
BOCA RATON, Fla. — As a number of free agents decide whether to accept a qualifying offer, the possibilities they must consider are more varied than in the past.
The collective-bargaining agreement expires on Dec. 1, 2016. Qualifying offers might not be part of the next agreement. The system could be altered. A work stoppage could disrupt the game’s economic structure.
The impact of such outcomes is impossible to predict. A free agent could accept his QO, gambling that the next agreement will not include such offers. He could seek a multi-year deal to protect him from the coming uncertainty — or take the opposite approach and accept the offer, knowing that a work stoppage could limit his earnings on a multi-year deal in 2017.
The deadline for the decisions is Friday, and speculation continues within the industry about which of the record 20 players to receive qualifying offers — if any — might accept the one-year, $15.8 million proposals.
Catcher Matt Wieters and left-hander Brett Anderson are weighing the pros and cons of the decision, according to major-league sources. Right-hander Ian Kennedy and outfielder Colby Rasmus are among the others who could accept the offers.
Wieters, who turns 30 on May 21, caught only 55 games last season and never on three straight days in his first year back from Tommy John surgery. He figures to be healthier next season, and if he accepts the Orioles’ QO, a strong performance could position him for a deal beyond even the $80 million-plus that Brian McCann and Russell Martin received as free agents.
Anderson, 27, produced a 3.69 ERA in a career-best 180 1/3 innings for the Dodgers last season. He could take the QO, gambling that he might perform even better in ’16 and that a second straight healthy season could lead to a monster deal; the free-agent class for starting pitchers next season is much weaker than the current one.
Kennedy, who turns 31 on Dec. 19, is coming off perhaps the least impressive season of the free-agent pitchers who received qualifying offers, though his performance improved after the All-Star break. Like Wieters, he is represented by Scott Boras, who in the past has been opposed to accepting QOs.
Rasmus, 29, should be in line for a solid multi-year deal after hitting 25 homers for the Astros with a .789 OPS, then adding four home runs in six postseason games. But he enjoyed a comfort level in his first season with the Astros that eluded him earlier in his career, and might want to return.
NEW YORK -- New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia first realized three years ago he was an alcoholic.
Sabathia left the team for treatment ahead of its loss to Houston in the AL Wild Card Game and went public with his problem.
"In 2012, I kind of came to the realization I was an alcoholic, and I was kind of battling it without any help," he told ABC in an interview broadcast Friday, his first remarks to media since treatment. "I would go a couple, you know, two, three months at a time sober, and then I would just relapse, and, you know, go on these weekends when I thought nobody was paying attention, and I would get in a hotel room and drink out of the minibar, pretty much everything."
He informed the Yankees of his problem while the team was in Baltimore on Oct. 4, the last day of the regular season.
"That weekend I had started drinking and, you know, thought nobody was paying attention and, you know, was isolated by myself, staying in my room the whole weekend," he said.
Sabathia said he "woke up, and just felt like I needed help. It was a tough decision to make because I felt like I was leaving my teammates, but I definitely needed the help to be a better husband, father, teammate, you know, player."
He defended the timing of his decision, two days before what turned out to be the Yankees' only postseason game, a 3-0 loss.
"I understand where, you know, fans would be upset and people don't understand, but it's a disease," he said. "If it was my knee or it was anything else, then people wouldn't have a problem with it. But, you know, it being alcoholism, it's tough for people to swallow, but it's the same thing."
The 35-year-old left-hander was 6-10 with a 4.73 ERA this season, slowed by a chronic knee injury. A six-time All-Star and the 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner, Sabathia has struggled through three consecutive subpar seasons, going 23-27 while trying to adjust to decreased velocity and pitching through knee pain.
"I was just tired of hiding," he said. "I just felt such a relief that everybody knows now. ... I can start the healing process and take the steps forward to get myself better."
Sabathia said he did not drink before his outings.
"That was one of the things I think I wanted to clear up," he said. "You don't ever drink before games or anything like that."
Sabathia was not allowed to have a telephone during his time in rehab. His wife Amber, who was interviewed along with her husband, said she heard from Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte and Brian McCann all on the same day. The pitcher said David Ortiz and Torii Hunter were among those who called.
"I've got to thank those guys, and I'm truly blessed to be able to have friends like that," Sabathia said.
Sabathia made a deliberate decision to admit his problem publicly.
SEATTLE — The Seattle Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays didn't wait long to pull off the first significant trade of the offseason.
Four days after the World Series ended, the teams completed a six-player swap Thursday night. Seattle sent infielder-outfielder Brad Miller, first baseman Logan Morrison and pitcher Danny Farquhar to Tampa Bay for pitchers Nathan Karns and C.J. Riefenhauser, and minor-league outfielder Boog Powell.
Miller, Morrison and Farquhar played extensive roles with the Mariners last season, but won't be part of the club's future under new general manager Jerry Dipoto and manager Scott Servais. Dipoto said discussions with Tampa Bay began right after the conclusion of the regular season and less than two weeks after Dipoto took the job.
"We've talked to the Rays pretty consistently close to the last four weeks," he said.
Tampa Bay gets experienced players, while Seattle is banking on potential.
Morrison played in a career-high 146 games last season, hitting .225 with 17 homers. Miller was used nearly as much, playing in 144 games that included a mix of middle infield and outfield positions as the Mariners struggled to find a set spot for his athleticism.
Tampa Bay president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said two of the team's offseason priorities were the middle infield and left-handed hitting.
The Rays had been looking at Miller for some time and view him as a shortstop, all but assuring free-agent incumbent Asdrubal Cabrera will not return. Morrison will be used in a variety of positions, but adding a left-handed bat was the attraction.
Farquhar bounced between the Mariners and the minors last season as he struggled to regain his previous form. Farquhar was 3-1 with a 2.66 ERA in 2014, but slipped to 1-8 with a 5.12 ERA in 43 appearances last year.
"We feel even better about the talent we'll have on the infield next year," Silverman said. "We feel better about our lineup vs. right-handed pitching, especially, and about the general balance on our roster."
Silverman said parting with Karns was made easier by the emergence of former Seattle pitcher Erasmo Ramirez and the expected returns of Matt Moore and Drew Smyly from injuries.
Seattle hopes the trade will pay off for years to come, with Karns and Powell the big pieces arriving.
Karns will jump into Seattle's rotation after starting 26 games last season for the Rays, going 7-5 with a 3.67 ERA. He led American League rookies in innings pitched and strikeouts and will keep Seattle from having to search for a free-agent addition to its rotation.
"I don't think we had a complete starting rotation to begin with, so this is addressing a need," Dipoto said.
Dipoto might be most excited about what Powell could provide in the future.
The 22-year-old Powell hit .295 with a .385 on-base percentage, 40 RBI and 61 walks while splitting last season between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham. Dipoto views Powell as a future leadoff hitter, and he will be given a chance to make the major-league club in spring training.
"The thing that appeals to us the most about Boog is the top-of-the-lineup skill set," Dipoto said. "The patience, the (hitting ability) and the speed are really attractive to us as well as the athleticism in the outfield."
Powell, no relation to the former Baltimore Orioles slugger by the same name, was suspended 50 games in July 2014 after testing positive for an amphetamine. He was playing in the Class-A California League at the time.
Last winter, Powell was traded from Oakland to Tampa Bay along with John Jaso in the deal that sent Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar to the Athletics.
When it comes to pitchers undergoing Tommy John surgery nowadays, there is always uncertainty about how they’ll come back with no error-proof protocol for teams to follow. However, considering how Matt Harvey performed over the course of the 2015 season, it’s safe to say that the New York Mets handled his return from surgery to near perfection.
There tends to be a great deal of concern with the number of innings a pitcher accumulates in his first season back from Tommy John, and after throwing 26.2 innings in the postseason, Harvey actually set the record for most innings pitched coming back from Tommy John surgery with 216. However, that doesn’t mean the Mets didn’t manage his workload properly, despite the fact that Harvey’s agent, Scott Boras, felt the need to stick his head where it didn’t belong and attempt to put a cap on Harvey’s innings this season.
The Mets went out of their way to give Harvey extra rest over the course of the season by implementing a six-man rotation at various points. New York also gave Harvey extended rest late in the season to ensure he was ready to pitch in the postseason without pushing him too hard.
It’s also important to note that the Mets convinced Harvey not to attempt a comeback late in the 2014 season when the team was out of contention, even though he was itching to do so after reaching the stage in his rehab when he was able to throw off a mound in August 2014. Not coming back late in the 2014 season meant that Harvey was nearly a year and a half removed from surgery when the 2015 season began, longer than most pitchers when they return from Tommy John. That added time helped Harvey extend his innings count beyond most pitchers returning from the injury.
The end result was Harvey putting up a 2.71 ERA in 29 starts during the regular season, followed by four starts in the postseason, including two memorable and dominating performances. Harvey first set the tone for the NLCS by dominating the Chicago Cubs in Game 1 and eventually threw eight incredible innings in Game 5 of the World Series that should have been enough to extend the series.
After all the talk about Harvey’s innings this season, the final eight innings were among his best of the season. Despite a couple hiccups over the course of the year, both on and off the field, the numbers say that Harvey’s first season back from Tommy John surgery couldn’t have gone much better. The Mets deserve a lot of credit for that success because of how they handled him during his recovery and over the course of the 2015 season; the results speak for themselves.