Tim Anderson acknowledged Tuesday that Josh Donaldson had previously invoked Jackie Robinson’s name with him, but the White Sox shortstop insists he never took the taunt in a joking manner from the Yankees’ third baseman.
Donaldson, who is appealing the one-game ban he received from MLB for his part in igniting a bench-clearing incident Saturday, had explained that he has jokingly referred to Anderson as “Jackie” multiple times in the past after Anderson had dubbed himself “today’s Jackie Robinson” in a 2019 Sports Illustrated article.
Anderson said that he let Donaldson know in 2019 that he didn’t find the Robinson references funny.
“I told him, we never have to talk again. ‘I won’t speak to you, you won’t speak to me, if that’s how you’re going to refer to me,’ ” Anderson told reporters Tuesday in Chicago. “I knew he knew exactly what he was doing.
“I can definitely move on but I’m not looking for no friendship or relationship from that behalf.”
Yankees manager Aaron Boone and Aaron Judge both have publicly stated that Donaldson never should have included Robinson’s name in his back-and-forth with Anderson.
Donaldson addressed his teammates after speaking with a few of them and Boone in the manager’s office on Sunday, but Anderson stressed that he has not spoken with Donaldson since the incident. The two players also had nearly come to blows the previous week in Chicago after a hard tag by Donaldson at third base.
“It’s a tough one,’’ Judge said after Monday’s loss to the Orioles. “Joke or not, I don’t think it’s the right thing to do there.
“Given the history, especially the series in Chicago and the little bit of beef between Anderson and JD. Anderson is one of the best shortstops in the game and is a big part of MLB and how we can grow the game. [Donaldson] getting a one-game suspension … I don’t know. He made a mistake, owned up to it and we’ve got to move on.”
First baseman Anthony Rizzo also said it was important for Donaldson to address the team and that he agreed with Judge’s assessment of the situation.
“I think what Judgie said kind of represents how we all feel,” Rizzo said. “It’s an unfortunate situation. Whenever something comes up as a unit, we want to address it, go over it and move on. When things happen or are said, you can’t take them back. But you explain what you’ve done and move forward.
“In any scenario, when things happen you have to address them, and sometimes they’re not comfortable. They can be very uncomfortable and sensitive. But as human beings, you talk it out and figure it out. Josh is a good guy and has a good heart, but says things sometimes that are out there. But he addressed it and I have full confidence he’ll learn from it.”
Boone, who said Sunday that he didn’t believe Donaldson should have “gone there” by invoking Robinson, added Tuesday that he does not believe the situation will linger in the Yankees’ clubhouse.
“I feel like we’re equipped to handle this and will absolutely handle this as a team and I don’t think it will linger,” Boone said. “The story may linger. And that’s something that’s not necessarily in our control. But I’m confident that the closeness in the room will allow us to deal with this.”
Donaldson also was assigned Monday to the COVID-19 injury list, joining teammates Joey Gallo and Kyle Higashioka, although the latter was reinstated for Tuesday’s game.
Gerrit Cole also believed it was “definitely” important that Donaldson addressed his teammates.
“We all make mistakes, and I think that you just try to do the best you can afterwards and be sincere and accept whatever punishment I guess comes your way,” Cole said. “As a group, we just try to take care of each other. It happened and we move forward.
“I kind of feel like that’s been the vibe, but that’s not to say that what happened was appropriate.”
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