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Yankees' Josh Donaldson suspended 1 game for "disrespectful" comment to White Sox's Tim Anderson

Yankees' third baseman Josh Donaldson has been suspended for one game and fined an undisclosed amount for a remark he made towards White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson that led to a benches-clearing argument between the two teams. Donaldson, who is White, called Anderson, who is Black, "Jackie" during a game on Saturday, a reference to Jackie Robinson.

"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," MLB senior vice President for on-field operations Michael Hill said in a statement, according to CBS Sports. "In addition, Mr. Donaldson's remark was a contributing factor in a bench-clearing incident between the teams, and warrants discipline."

Donaldson said after Saturday's game that he called Anderson "Jackie" during the game. He said it was a reference to a 2019 Sports Illustrated article in which Anderson said "I kind of feel like today's Jackie Robinson." 

Donaldson said he made the remark during the first inning of Saturday's game. White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal confronted Donaldson later in the game during an at bat, leading to both benches clearing.  

Donaldson will appeal the suspension, according to CBS Sports.

In the article referenced by Donaldson, Anderson was discussing how he often feels isolated as a Black player in Major League Baseball and highlighted the backlash and retaliation he faced for behavior like bat flip celebrations, even as the league itself was running a "let the kids play" promotion that highlighted a younger generation of players who bucked the old unwritten rules of baseball.

Donaldson claimed that the two had joked about it when Donaldson was a member of the Atlanta Braves.

"I've said it to him in years past... just joking around for the fact that he called himself Jackie Robinson," Donaldson told reporters after the game. "If something has changed from that, my meaning of that is not, any term, trying to be racist by any fact of the matter." 

Donaldson said Anderson had laughed at the joke when he said it previously, and claimed he was trying to diffuse tensions that had been rising between the two throughout the series.

"Obviously, he deemed it disrespectful, and look, if he did, I apologize," Donaldson said.

White Sox manager Tony La Russa said the remarks were "racist." Anderson called the comment "disrespectful" and "uncalled for." 

"I don't play like that. I don't really play at all," Anderson told reporters after the game. 

White Sox pitcher Liam Hendriks said Donaldson's explanation was "complete bulls***." 

"That's completely inappropriate, and then after hearing what was said after the game, usually you have inside jokes with the people you get along with, not people that don't get along at all," Hendriks told reporters.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters over the weekend that "Josh has been very forthcoming with the history of it and the context of it. So I don't believe there was any malicious intent in that regard."

"But, this is, just my opinion, somewhere he should not be going," he added.

In a since-deleted tweet, White Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz complained that Donaldson's punishment was too light. 

"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?" he wrote. "This is incredibly disappointing and plain frustrating."

Katz was referencing an incident on May 13, when Yankees catcher Jose Trevino tried to pick off Anderson at third base. Donaldson applied a hard tag to Anderson, where it appears Donaldson was trying to knee Anderson off the bag. Anderson shoved Donaldson and the two got into an argument, which led to the benches clearing.

Prior to the discipline being announced, the Yankees placed Donaldson on the COVID-19 injured list, making him unavailable for Monday night's game against the Baltimore Orioles.

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