NEW YORK — Major League Baseball has upheld Josh Donaldson’s one-game suspension, a penalty that was assessed after the New York Yankees third baseman made a remark to White Sox star Tim Anderson about Jackie Robinson that Chicago manager Tony La Russa called racist.
MLB special adviser John McHale upheld the penalty after hearing Donaldson’s appeal on Thursday, a person familiar with the discipline told The Associated Press. The person spoke Monday on condition of anonymity because McHale’s decision was not announced.
Donaldson’s fine was cut in half by McHale to $5,000, the person said. Donaldson will serve the penalty during the Yankees’ series opener against Tampa Bay on Tuesday night.
Michael Hill, MLB’s senior vice president for on-field operations, announced the original penalty on May 23, two days after Donaldson made multiple references to Robinson while talking to Anderson during a game.
Robinson broke the MLB color barrier in 1947 and every team in the big leagues has retired his No. 42 in his honor.
A three-time All-Star and the 2015 AL MVP with Toronto, Donaldson said he was referring to a 2019 Sports Illustrated article in which Anderson, who is Black, was quoted as saying: “I kind of feel like today’s Jackie Robinson ... because he changed the game, and I feel like I’m getting to a point to where I need to change the game.”
Anderson said he agreed with La Russa, and several Yankees said Donaldson was wrong. Yankees manager Aaron Boone said: “This is just my opinion — (that’s) somewhere he should not be going.” New York star Aaron Judge said: “I just don’t think it’s the right thing to do there.”
Donaldson, who is white, said he had “joked around” with Anderson in the past using the reference. Donaldson made a public apology to the Robinson family.
“I think everybody wanted to have a say. But they don’t know my heart,” Donaldson said on June 1. “I do feel bad that the Robinson family — I never wanted them to feel their name should ever be regarded in a bad light. That was why I issued the apology.”
In his first season with the Yankees, the 37-year-old Donaldson is batting .235 with five homers and 18 RBIs.