Josh Donaldson says he was “joking around” when he referred to Tim Anderson as “Jackie,” but at least one member of the Chicago White Sox isn’t buying the former MVP’s explanation.
“Usually you have inside jokes with people you get along with, not people who don’t get along at all,” White Sox closer Liam Hendriks said Sunday, one day after the exchange between Donaldson and Anderson incited a benches-clearing incident at Yankee Stage. “So that statement right there was complete bulls—.”
Donaldson admitted after Saturday’s game to calling Anderson “Jackie” — a nod to Jackie Robinson — 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.” Hendriks echoed those sentiments Sunday afternoon before the clubs started a doubleheader.
“Us in this clubhouse, we have [Anderson’s] back and everything — and that was just a completely unacceptable thing,” Hendriks said. “Again, [the Yankees] are trying to whip it out as being an inside joke — no, that’s horse s—. They don’t have those sorts of things going on. … That’s like having an inside joke with a guy who you are a nemesis with, I guess you could say.
“But that’s not how it went down in this clubhouse, and I don’t understand how [Donaldson] ever thought of it like that. It’s just delusional.”
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.
Major League Baseball is looking into the matter and speaking to all of the relevant parties involved, a source told ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez. 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 should not be going.”
White Sox manager Tony La Russa said Saturday that he thought Donaldson’s comment was “racist” and elaborated on the situation a day later, telling reporters he is “curious” to see whether the Yankees address the incident.
“I’m actually curious to see what the Yankee organization says,” La Russa said. “It’s not really important what I say here. I saw what Aaron said — he’s between a rock and a hard place there.”
Hendriks also said he also hopes for further response from the Yankees.
“A couple of our guys made sure a couple guys in their clubhouse knew exactly what was going on,” Hendriks said. “So whether it’s an internal thing that has to happen on their side, today we show up and do what we came here to do — we have a chance to win two games at Yankee Stadium.”
Anderson was held out of Chicago’s Game 1 lineup by La Russa, who said it “didn’t make sense” to have the former AL batting champion play both games of the doubleheader.
Donaldson scrapped with Anderson on May 13 in Chicago after putting a hard tag on the White Sox star shortstop, who responded with a shove, resulting in the benches and bullpens clearing. Donaldson said Saturday that he was “trying to defuse” any lingering tension when the players crossed paths early in the game.
In the third inning, Donaldson had rounded second base after the final out and began jawing with Anderson as the teams came off the field. Donaldson was escorted off the field by Boone while Anderson was led off by third-base coach Joe McEwing.
“[Donaldson] knew damn well what he was doing,” Hendriks said. “He intended it to be exactly what it was. He just didn’t intend for the repercussions, which were swift.”