NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball suspended Josh Donaldson for one game Monday after the New York Yankees slugger made several references to Jackie Robinson while speaking to White Sox star Tim Anderson during of the weekend.
Donaldson was also fined an undisclosed amount for his actions Saturday at Yankee Stadium. The punishment was announced by Michael Hill, the senior vice president of field operations for MLB.
Donaldson chose to appeal the sanction. Shortly before the suspension was announced, the Yankees said Donaldson had been placed on the COVID-19 injured reserve.
“MLB has completed the discussion process with those involved in this incident. There is no dispute about what was said on the ground. Regardless of Mr. Donaldson’s intent, the comment he directed at Mr. Anderson was disrespectful and lacked judgment, particularly when considered in the context of their prior interactions,” Hill said in a statement. .
“Furthermore, Mr. Donaldson’s remark contributed to a bench clearance incident between the teams and warrants discipline,” he said.
New York, leaders of the AL East, are set to open a three-game series against Baltimore on Monday night, then travel to Tampa Bay for a four-game series starting Thursday.
Donaldson said he twice called Anderson “Jackie” — as in Robinson, who broke MLB’s 1947 color barrier — in the Yankees’ 7-5 victory on Saturday. Benches and enclosures emptied as tensions mounted.
Anderson, one of baseball’s leading black voices and an All-Star shortstop, said it was a “disrespectful comment.” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said it was racist and Anderson agreed.
“He was basically trying to call me Jackie Robinson. Like, ‘What’s up, Jackie?’ said Anderson after Saturday’s game.
Donaldson, who is white, said he had used the “Jackie” reference in the past with Anderson, who said he considered himself a potential modern-day Robinson in a 2019 interview with Sports Illustrated.
“My sense of that is not a term trying to be racist by any fact,” Donaldson said Saturday.
Anderson and Donaldson did not speak to the media on Sunday, when the White Sox swept a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium.
Anderson started the second game and was booed by fans, some chanting “Jackie” at him. He hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning of a 5-0 victory, then put his finger to his lips in a silent gesture as he rounded the bases.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he spoke to Donaldson after Saturday’s game and believed his player’s explanation for why he made the ‘Jackie’ remark – but he also said that he thought Donaldson should not have used the term.
“I think with what’s been going on between the two players and between the two teams over the past week or two, I certainly understand how sensitive that would be and I understand the reaction,” Boone said. “I also understand that Josh was very forthcoming with the story and the background of it, so I don’t believe there was any malicious intent in that regard.
“But that’s just my opinion – (it’s) a place he shouldn’t go,” he said.
Donaldson had faced the White Sox several times before this weekend.
The benches also emptied on May 13 after Anderson shoved Donaldson following a hard blow in Chicago.
White Sox ace Lucas Giolito used an expletive when calling Donaldson a “destroyer” last year after Donaldson appeared to shout “Tackier!” after a first-inning homer for Minnesota — a reference to MLB cracking down on pitchers using stickies on baseballs.
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