White Sox say Josh Donaldson’s Jackie Robinson comment triggered bench clearing

NEW YORK — Yasmani Grandal had Tim Anderson’s back.

So did Anderson’s other teammates during a 7-5 loss to the Yankees Saturday.

In the White Sox’ view, Josh Donaldson went too far with a comment manager Tony La Russa called “racist.”

“He made a disrespectful comment,” Anderson said. “Basically tried to call me Jackie Robinson, ‘What’s up Jackie.’ I don’t play like that. I don’t need to play at all. I wasn’t really bothering nobody today but he made a comment and it was disrespectful and I don’t think it was called for.”

Anderson said Donaldson said it in the first inning, and when he said it again in the third, Anderson said something back and second baseman Leury Garcia and third base coach Joe McEwing had to stop Anderson from approaching Donaldson. When Donaldson came to the plate in the fifth, Grandal was waiting for him.

“I want to make sure I got my teammate’s back,” Grandal said. “There’s no way you’re allowed to say something like that. It’s unacceptable.”

Benches and bullpens emptied. No punches thrown but Anderson had to be restrained by Jose Abreu, even after they returned to the dugout.

“This game went through a time where a lot of those comments were made, and I think we’re way past that,” Grandal said. “It’s just unacceptable. I thought it was a low blow.”

Umpire Nick Mahrley attempts to separate the White Sox’ Yasmani Grandal and the Yankees’ Josh Donaldson at Yankee Stadium on Saturday.

Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Donaldson said that he called Anderson “Jackie” referring to a 2019 interview in which Anderson said he felt like “today’s Jackie Robinson.” Donaldson said that he thought it was an inside joke.

“I called him Jackie,” Donaldson said. “He came out with an interview that says he’s the new Jackie Robinson … We’ve actually joked about that. I’ve said it to him in years past, not in any manner [other] than just joking around.”

But there was nothing funny about this to the Sox.

“I don’t think TA is just going to pop off to somebody without something being instigated,” Sox starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel said. “And I think that’s very sad, just first thought. There’s no need or room for that anywhere. Here or in the game.”

The Yankees led 6-3 at the time, scoring all their runs including four on a DJ LeMahieu grand slam against Dallas Keuchel. The Sox got three on a three-run homer by Abreu and narrowed the deficit to 6-5 in the sixth on doubles by AJ Pollock, Leury Garcia and Josh Harrison against righty Michael King.

A sacrifice fly by Anthony Rizzo in the sixth made it 7-5. The Sox (19-20) had 11 hits but were 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base. The Yankees improved to 29-10.

Anderson and Donaldson, playing third base, got into it last Friday in the Yankees’ 10-4 win at Guaranteed Rate Field when Anderson, diving back to third base on a pickoff attempt, was tagged hard and was pushed off the base by Donaldson.

Donaldson has gotten into it before, including a spat with Lucas Giolito last June after he homered against the right-hander. At the time when a ban on pitchers using substances was going into effect, Donaldson yelled “It’s not sticky anymore.”

Said Giolito: “He’s a [bleeping] pest. That’s kind of a classless move.”

Donaldson would later approach Giolito in the parking lot. He said he would talk Anderson.

“I’m sure he’ll see [what I said postgame],” Donaldson said. “If If he wanted to talk, I’d be more than happy to talk.”

Benches and bullpens empty during the fifth inning of the White Sox-Yankees game Saturday.

Daryl Van Schouwen/Sun-Times

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