Major League Baseball has suspended New York Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson for one game for “inappropriate comments” made to Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson on Saturday.
Donaldson, who also was fined an undisclosed amount, is appealing the punishment, MLB announced on Monday. He will be eligible to play for the Yankees until the appeal process is completed. Shortly before the suspension was announced, the Yankees said Donaldson had been put on the COVID-19 injured list.
“MLB has completed the process of speaking to the individuals involved in this incident,” Michael Hill, MLB’s senior vice president for on-field operations, said in a statement. “There is no dispute over what was said on the field. Regardless of Mr. Donaldson’s intent, the comment he directed toward Mr. Anderson was disrespectful and in poor judgment, particularly when viewed in the context of their prior interactions. In addition, Mr Donaldson’s remark was a contributing factor in a bench-clearing incident between the teams, and warrants discipline.”
White Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz didn’t think the penalty was enough.
“Just one game. We all saw his malice at third a week ago, then this comment with the ridiculous excuse that followed. What’s the point or message behind a 1 game suspension? This is incredibly disappointing and plain frustrating,” Katz tweeted.
Donaldson after the game Saturday acknowledged calling Anderson “Jackie” — a reference to Jackie Robinson, who broke MLB’s color barrier in 1947 — in the first inning. The Yankees third baseman apologized, saying he meant no disrespect.
But Anderson, who is Black, said Saturday that he was offended by Donaldson’s comment, calling it “disrespectful” and “unnecessary.” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said Saturday that he believed Donaldson’s comment was “racist.”
Donaldson, who is white, said the “Jackie” comment was in reference to a 2019 interview with Sports Illustrated in which Anderson described himself as feeling like “today’s Jackie Robinson” in how he’s “getting to a point where I need to change the game .” Donaldson said it was a reference about which he has “joked around” with Anderson in the past.
Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge said Donaldson made “a mistake.”
“You know, joke or not … I just don’t think it’s the right thing to do there, especially given the history, especially the series in Chicago, kind of a little bit of beef between JD and Anderson is one of the best shortstops in the game and a big part of MLB and what’s going on here and how we can grow the game,” Judge said.
“JD, for that one-game suspension, yeah I don’t know. JD made a mistake and owned up to it and now we got to move on,” he said.
Judge, who leads the majors with 17 home runs after hitting two more Monday night in a 6-4 loss to Baltimore, said Donaldson spoke to the team after the incident.
“JD is a pro. So he talked to all of us and filled us in on what he was referring to about, I guess, a 2019 interview that TA did,” he said. “But still I just don’t think it was the right move at all.”
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he disagreed with MLB’s decision.
“I think they were thoughtful and did their due diligence on it and made what was a tough call. I don’t agree with it. I don’t think it warranted a suspension, but I certainly respect their process,” he said.
The American League East-leading Yankees will head to Tampa Bay for a four-game set beginning Thursday after their three-game series at Baltimore.
Donaldson had clashed with the White Sox on multiple occasions before this weekend.
The benches also emptied May 13 after Anderson shoved Donaldson following a hard tag in Chicago. White Sox ace Lucas Giolito used an expletive in calling Donaldson a “pest” last year after the third baseman appeared to yell “Not sticky anymore!” after a first-inning homer for Minnesota — a reference to MLB cracking down on pitchers using sticky substances on baseballs.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.