White Sox star shortstop Tim Anderson accused Yankees slugger Josh Donaldson of making a racist remark by calling him Jackie Robinson during Saturday’s game against New York.
“He just made a, you know, disrespectful comment,” said Anderson, who is Black, “Basically, it was trying to call me Jackie Robinson. Like, ‘What’s up, Jackie?’”
“I don’t think it was called for,” Anderson added after New York’s 7-5 win at Yankee Stadium.
Major League Baseball is investigating the incident and speaking to those involved.
Anderson, an All-Star who is among the leading Black voices in baseball, told Sports Illustrated in 2019: “I kind of feel like today’s Jackie Robinson . . . because he changed the game, and I feel like I’m getting to a point to where I need to change the game.”
Donaldson said that in the first inning, “I called him Jackie.” The white ballplayer also said he has “joked around” with Anderson in the past using the same reference and mentioned the 2019 Sports Illustrated interview.
Robinson broke the MLB color barrier in 1947. Every team in the big leagues has retired his No. 42 to honor the struggle, sacrifice and social impact he had on the game and beyond.
“My meaning of that is not any term trying to be racist by any fact of the matter,” Donaldson said. “Obviously, he deemed it disrespectful,” he said.
“And look, if he did, I apologize. That’s not what I was trying to do by any manner and that’s what happened.”
Donaldson scrapped with Anderson on May 13 in Chicago after making a hard tag, and Anderson 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.
Anderson said Donaldson made a “Jackie” in the first couple of innings: “I spared him that time, and then it happened again.”
White Sox manager Tony La Russa also called Donaldson’s comment “racist,” adding, “That’s as strong as it gets.”
In the third inning, Donaldson 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 Yankees manager Aaron Boone and Anderson was led off by third base coach Joe McEwing.
In the fifth, White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal stood up from his crouch and confronted Donaldson as he approached the plate.
“Believe me, you don’t want me to tell you guys what I told him,” Grandal said to reporters.
The barking continued as relievers ran in from the bullpens and the benches emptied, with La Russa — a member of baseball’s Hall of Fame — also yelling at Donaldson.
Anderson also continued to shout at Donaldson while being restrained by White Sox slugger José Abreu and infielder Gavin Sheets. After a few minutes, umpires issued warnings to both sides and Donaldson struck out.
“This game went through a period in time where a lot of those comments were meant, and I think we’re way past that,” Grandal said after the game. “And it’s just unacceptable. I just thought it was a low blow and I want to make sure I’ve got my team’s back. There’s no way that you’re allowed to say something like that.”
Boone said of the incident: “I know . . . some talk of that. I’ve got to get to the bottom of it.”
Last season with Minnesota, Donaldson got into a spat with the White Sox when he appeared to yell “not sticky anymore” — a reference to substances pitchers use to control the ball — after hitting a homer against Chicago ace Lucas Giolito.
Earlier in the game, the Yankees’ DJ LeMahieu capped a five-run second inning off Dallas Keuchel (2-4) by hitting his second career grand slam.
Orioles recall top prospect Adley Rutschman
The Orioles called up top prospect Adley Rutschman to the majors, and the 24-year-old catcher made his big league debut, going 1 for 3 in a 6-1 loss to the Rays in Baltimore.
“I’d say about as excited as I can be right now,” Rutschman said. “This is probably the coolest thing, coolest moment, that I’ve had so far. I’m really excited for it.”
The switch-hitting Rutschman was the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft and is ranked as baseball’s No. 1 prospect by MLB Pipeline. The Orioles selected his contract from Triple A Norfolk and designated catcher Anthony Bemboom for assignment.
Rutschman is wearing No. 35, the same number Hall of Famer Mike Mussina wore when he pitched for the Orioles.
Rutschman reached Triple A last year but had a triceps injury before this season. He’s hit .309 with a .942 OPS in 19 games across three levels of the minors in 2022.
“From the moment you’re drafted, from when you’re in high school, wherever it is, I think you always are looking forward to the opportunity and hoping it happens,” Rutschman said. “Just the fact it’s here now, it’s crazy. Just trying to take it in.”
The Orioles also agreed to a $5.925 million, two-year contract with lefthanded pitcher John Means, avoiding arbitration.
Means is out for the season following Tommy John surgery. His salary was $593,500 last year. He originally asked for $3.1 million and the team offered $2.7 million for this season.
Means went 6-9 with a 3.62 ERA last season, including a no-hitter at Seattle in May. He made two starts this year, including one on opening day.
Bo Bichette, Blue Jays edge Reds
Bo Bichette hit two home runs, pitcher Alek Manoah matched his career-high with eight innings, and the Blue Jays beat the Reds, 3-1, in Toronto. Bichette’s first was solo home run off Reds righthander Hunter Greene in the fourth, No. 50 of Bichette’s career, and added a two-run blast off Luis Cessa (2-1) in the seventh. Both came on the first pitch in his sixth career multi-homer game. Five of his six home runs this season have tied the game or given the Blue Jays the lead. Greene allowed one run and four hits in six innings, walking two and striking out six in his first start since tossing 7⅓ hitless innings against Pittsburgh last Sunday . . . Justin Verlander had another splendid start to lead the Astros to a 2-1 win over the Rangers in Houston. Verlander (6-1) scattered six singles across six scoreless innings without a walk to earn his major league-leading sixth win. The 39-year-old righthander, who made his return from Tommy John surgery this season, tied a season high with eight strikeouts and lowered his ERA to 1.22, which also leads the majors . . . Paul Goldschmidt went 4 for 5 with two doubles and two RBIs to lead the Cardinals over the Pirates, 5-4, in Pittsburgh. Goldschmidt extended his hitting streak to 14 games and his on-base streak to 28 . . . Joe Ryan (5-2) struck out six and the Twins capped the game with a four-run ninth inning for a 9-2 win over the Royals in Kansas City . . . Andrew McCutchen hit a leadoff home run, Luis Urías added a solo shot and a defensive gem, and Brandon Woodruff allowed one run in six effective innings to give the Brewers a 5-1 win over the Nationals in Milwaukee . . . William Contreras homered twice, Ronald Acuña Jr. extended his two-season on-base streak to 28 games and the Braves beat the Marlins, 4-3 in Miami . . . Joe Musgrove pitched seven scoreless innings of four-hit ball to remain unbeaten, Manny Machado homered and the Padres beat the Giants, 2-1, in San Francisco.
Mets place Max Scherzer on IL
The Mets placed pitcher Max Scherzer on the 15-day injured list with a left oblique strain. The move is retroactive to Thursday. Scherzer left his start on Wednesday night after experiencing tightness in his side. An MRI performed Thursday revealed a moderate to high-grade internal oblique strain, according to the Mets. Scherzer is expected to be out six to eight weeks. It is another blow to New York’s rotation. Ace Jacob deGrom has not pitched yet because of a stress reaction in his right scapula, and Tylor Megill is on the IL with right biceps tendinitis. In other moves Saturday, the Mets reinstated outfielder Sterling Marte from the bereavement list, recalled right-handed pitcher Jake Reed and added righthanded pitcher Adonis Medina as the 27th man for a doubleheader at Colorado. The Mets also optioned second baseman Gosuke Katoh to Triple-A. Marte homered in his return to the lineup as the Mets beat the Rockies, 5-1, in the first game of a split doubleheader . . . Bryce Harper went 1 for 4 as the designated hitter in his first game in a week as the Phillies lost to the Dodgers, 7-4, in Philadelphia. Harper missed the previous five games because of soreness from a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right elbow. He has been playing exclusively at designated hitter since injuring his arm on a throw from right field last month. He last played the field at Miami on April 16. Mookie Betts homered, doubled and singled, knocked in three runs, threw out the potential go-ahead run at the plate to spark the Dodgers . . . For the sixth time this season, the Guardians were postponed at home by bad weather as the threat of thunderstorms and an ominous forecast led to their game against the Tigers being called more than three hours before the first pitch in Cleveland. The Tigers were taking infield practice when the game was called at 2:45 p.m. The game was scheduled to start at 6:10. The latest rainout will be made up on July 14, a previously mutual off day for the AL Central rivals before they played a three-game series in Cleveland. The Guardians will push back their rotation on Sunday with Shane Bieber (1-2) starting the scheduled 1:40 p.m. start. Detroit will do the same with Alex Faedo (0-1) taking the mound in what will now be the series finale . . . Looking to boost their lineup, the Mariners signed veteran slugger Justin Upton to a one-year contract. Upton, a four-time All-Star, was released by the Angels on April 8 heading into the final season of a $106 million, five-year guaranteed contract. Seattle must pay him only a prorated share of the $700,000 major league minimum.