CHICAGO – Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson said Tuesday that Josh Donaldson was clearly trying to rattle him when the New York Yankees third baseman referred to him as “Jackie,” a remark that led to Donaldson being suspended one game by Major League Baseball.
Anderson and White Sox manager Tony La Russa said previously that Donaldson was being racist when he referred to Anderson, who is Black, by the name of the man who broke baseball's color barrier.
Donaldson has appealed the suspension and has denied that he had any racist intent. He said the comment was a reference to a 2019 Sports Illustrated interview in which Anderson said he viewed himself as a modern-day Robinson.
“He was trying to provoke me,” Anderson said Tuesday before the White Sox faced Boston. “But he knew what he was doing.”
The benches and bullpens emptied after Donaldson's remark.
Anderson said he didn't have a strong opinion on MLB's decision to suspend Donaldson and fine him an undisclosed amount. Anderson did confirm he had a brief conversation in 2019 in which Donaldson called him “Jackie.”
“He did say that,” Anderson said. “I told him, ‘We don’t have to talk again. I won’t speak to you, you don’t speak to me if that’s how you’re going to refer to me.’
“I know he knew exactly what he was doing. I already told him. He went to Minnesota 2-3 years ago, and he don’t say nothing to me because he knows I already addressed it. And we get into it (on May 13). He slammed back, so I pushed him off me. So what? He felt the need to say it again.”
Anderson shoved Donaldson on May 13 following a hard tag in Chicago, which also led to the benches emptying.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone and team leader Aaron Judge have both said Donaldson was in the wrong to taunt Anderson in that way.
Donaldson tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday shortly before being suspended and has been away from the Yankees. Boone said he expected that Donaldson was doing a lot of reflecting, and also that the comments wouldn't create tension in New York's clubhouse, where several of Donaldson's teammates are Black.
“I think people always change and evolve and hopefully get better," Boone said. "Some people are more provocative than others. Some people are quiet, some people are outgoing, everyone’s a little bit different, but to say people can’t evolve and change and grow, no, I don’t think that’s, I never close the book on any of that with anyone.”
Anderson acknowledged he got extra satisfaction from hitting a home run in Sunday night’s win at Yankee Stadium, where he was booed and claimed he heard calls of “Jackie” from fans.
“That was cool,” Anderson said. “It helped motivate me a little more. We’ve seen what happened. But that’s cool. I’ll take whatever he told me. That’s cool.
“Got to need something to keep me motivated.”
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Anderson's homer was the best response “you could possibly have.”
As for Donaldson’s claim the “Jackie” reference was an inside joke, Anderson replied: “I know the truth. I know what it is.”
AP Baseball Writer Jake Seiner in New York contributed to this report.
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