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. 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. 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, » Michael Hill, MLB’s senior vice president for on-field operations said in a statement.
Donaldson admitted after Saturday’s game to calling Anderson « Jackie » — a nod 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 thought 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 manager Aaron Boone said Sunday that he did not think Donaldson should have made the comment.
« I don’t believe there was any malicious intent in that regard, » Boone told reporters. « But you know, this is, just in my opinion, somewhere he shouldn’t be going. »
The American League East-leading Yankees are scheduled to open a three-game series against Baltimore on Monday night and then head to Tampa Bay for a four-game set beginning on Thursday.
Donaldson had clashed with the White Sox on multiple occasions before this weekend.
The benches also emptied on 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 Donaldson 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.