White Sox say Josh Donaldson’s Jackie Robinson comment triggered bench clearing
The Sox’ Yasmani Grandal and Tim Anderson and the Yankees’ Donaldson were at the center of the dustup. There were no punches or ejections.
NEW YORK — Yasmani Grandal had Tim Anderson’s back.
So did Anderson’s other teammates during a 7-5 loss to the Yankees on Saturday.
In the White Sox’ view, Josh Donaldson went too far.
“He made a racist comment, Donaldson,” manager Tony La Russa said.
“Disrespectful” is how Anderson put it.
“Basically tried to call me Jackie Robinson, ‘What’s up, Jackie?’ ’’ Anderson said. “I don’t play like that. I don’t need to play at all. I wasn’t really bothering nobody today, but he made a comment, and it was disrespectful, and I don’t think it was called for.”
Anderson said Donaldson said it in the first inning, and when he said it again in the third, Anderson said something back. Second baseman Leury Garcia and third-base coach Joe McEwing had to stop Anderson from approaching Donaldson. When Donaldson came to the plate in the fifth, Grandal was waiting for him.
“I want to make sure I got my teammate’s back,” Grandal said. “There’s no way you’re allowed to say something like that. It’s unacceptable.”
Benches and bullpens emptied. Anderson made a beeline for the scrum, but no punches were thrown. Anderson had to be restrained by Jose Abreu, even after they returned to the dugout.
“This game went through a time where a lot of those comments were made, and I think we’re way past that,” Grandal said. “It’s just unacceptable. I thought it was a low blow.”
Donaldson said he called Anderson “Jackie” in reference to a 2019 interview in which Anderson said he felt like “today’s Jackie Robinson.” Donaldson said he thought it was an inside joke.
“I called him Jackie,” Donaldson said. “He came out with an interview that says he’s the new Jackie Robinson. We’ve actually joked about that. I’ve said it to him in years past, not in any manner [other] than just joking around.”
But there was nothing funny about this to the Sox. Anderson, who is Black, is the face of the franchise, their leading hitter, an All-Star and their energy.
“I don’t think TA is just going to pop off to somebody without something being instigated,” Sox starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel said. “And I think that’s very sad, just first thought. There’s no need or room for that anywhere. Here or in the game.”
The Yankees led 6-3 at the time, with four runs coming on DJ LeMahieu’s grand slam against Keuchel. The Sox got on the board on a three-run homer by Abreu and narrowed the deficit to 6-5 in the sixth on doubles by AJ Pollock, Garcia and Josh Harrison against right-hander Michael King.
A sacrifice fly by Anthony Rizzo in the sixth made it 7-5. The Sox (19-20) had 11 hits but were 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base. The Yankees improved to 29-10.
It’s not the first time Donaldson has mixed it up with the Sox. Anderson and Donaldson, playing third base, got into it last Friday in the Yankees’ 10-4 win at Guaranteed Rate Field when Anderson, diving back into third on a pickoff attempt, was tagged hard and pushed off the base by Donaldson.
Donaldson also got into a spat with Lucas Giolito last June after he homered against the right-hander. A ban on pitchers using substances was going into effect at the time, and Donaldson yelled, “It’s not sticky anymore.”
Said Giolito: “He’s a [expletive] pest. That’s kind of a classless move.”
Donaldson later approached Giolito in the parking lot. He said he would talk to Anderson.
“I’m sure he’ll see [what I said after the game],” Donaldson said. “If he wanted to talk, I’d be more than happy to talk.”
“He’s going to deny everything, then maybe go on Twitter and tweet something out just like he did with Giolito last year,” Grandal said. “I guess he lives in his own world.”