White Sox Manager Tony La Russa didn’t mince words when he was asked what happened between Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson and Chicago shortstop Tim Anderson on Saturday.
“He made a racist comment,” La Russa said of Donaldson. “That’s all I’m going to say.”
Shortly after the Yankees beat Chicago at Yankee Stadium, 7-5, Donaldson, who’s white, admitted to calling Anderson, who’s Black, “Jackie” in the primary inning. Anderson said it happened twice in the sport. Anderson deemed the reference to Jackie Robinson, who broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, “disrespectful” before agreeing together with his manager that the remark was racist.
“Mainly, he was attempting to call me Jackie Robinson,” Anderson said. “He was like, ‘Hey, what’s up Jackie?’ I don’t play like that. I don’t really play in any respect. I wasn’t really going to trouble no one today, but he made the comment, and you understand, it was disrespectful and I don’t think it was called for. It was unnecessary.”
Anderson and Donaldson exchanged words on the sector early in the sport. The situation escalated within the fifth inning when White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal confronted Donaldson as he stepped into the batter’s box. Grandal, pointing toward Anderson at shortstop, got nose to nose with Donaldson, and the benches cleared. Anderson, jogging in from short, was restrained by teammates and refrained from Donaldson. There have been no punches thrown.
“This game went through a period in time where lots of those comments were meant, and I believe we’re well past that,” Grandal said after the sport. “It’s just unacceptable. I just thought it was a low blow, and I need to make certain I’ve got my team’s back. There’s no way that you simply’re allowed to say something like that.
“Imagine me, you don’t want me to inform you guys what I told him.”
Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said he needed to unravel Chicago’s accusation before commenting further. Major League Baseball will investigate the situation, per Newsday’s Laura Albanese.
Donaldson, meanwhile, said he has been calling Anderson “Jackie” for years. He claimed it was a long-running joke between them, stemming from a 2019 Sports Illustrated article wherein Anderson said, “I sort of feel like today’s Jackie Robinson.”
Anderson was speaking on his desire to introduce more personality and flair to baseball’s traditionally reserved culture, an effort that Anderson has received pushback for at times during his profession.
“So first inning, I called him ‘Jackie.’ Let me provide you with somewhat context of that,” Donaldson began. “In 2019, he got here out with an interview, said that he’s the brand new Jackie Robinson of baseball and he’s going to bring back fun for the sport, right? In 2019, once I played for Atlanta, we actually joked about that in the sport.
“I don’t know what’s modified, and I’ve said it to him in years past. Not in any manner than simply joking around for the incontrovertible fact that he called himself Jackie Robinson. So if something has modified from that — my meaning of that just isn’t in any term attempting to be racist by any fact of the matter. It was just off an interview.”
Donaldson added: “Obviously, he deemed that it was disrespectful. And look, if he did, I apologize. That’s not what I used to be attempting to do, by any manner.”
For Anderson, there was no humor to be found.
“That happened in the primary, the primary time he got on, and I spared him that point,” Anderson said. “After which it happened again. It’s just uncalled for.”
Donaldson said he can be open to having a personal conversation with Anderson. His characterization of the situation raised some eyebrows, though, as Anderson and the White Sox haven’t had a great recent history with Donaldson. Just last week, Anderson took exception to a physical tag from Donaldson when the teams played in Chicago. On an attempted pickoff play at third base, Donaldson pushed Anderson off the bag, ultimately leading to a protected call. That resulted in an exchange of words and a modest bench clearing.
Donaldson also had run-ins with the White Sox in 2021 while he was a member of the Twins, who, like Chicago, play within the American League Central. In a single such matchup, Donaldson homered off the White Sox ace Lucas Giolito. As Donaldson crossed home plate, he might be heard yelling, “Hands not sticky anymore,” a nod to M.L.B.’s crackdown on pitchers using foreign substances.
Afterward, Giolito called Donaldson a “pest” and said that if the infielder had an issue with him, he should say so to his face. Donaldson then told reporters that he confronted Giolito within the stadium’s parking zone.
On Saturday, Donaldson said that he took responsibility for last week’s tag on Anderson and was attempting to “make light” of the continued tension in an try and defuse things. “We’re not trying to begin any brawls or anything like that,” Donaldson said.
The White Sox, who finish their regular-season series with the Yankees with a Sunday doubleheader, didn’t see it that way.
White Sox closer Liam Hendriks, a former teammate of Donaldson’s, called Donaldson’s interpretation of events “straight delusional.” He added: “Often, you could have inside jokes with people you get together with, not people who don’t get along in any respect.”
“He lives in his own world,” Grandal said of Donaldson while also bringing up the dispute with Giolito.
“I’m sure some other team would have reacted the identical way. Like I said, a comment like that’s just unacceptable.”
Manager Aaron Boone said relief pitcher Chad Green, who turns 31 on Tuesday, would require Tommy John surgery. Green, who will likely be a free agent after this season, had a 3.00 E.R.A. in 14 appearances this season. … The Yankees placed outfielder Joey Gallo and catcher Kyle Higashioka on the Covid-19 injured list.