Liam Hendrix wasn’t buying Josh Donaldson’s explanation for the New York Yankees third baseman’s comments to Tim Anderson during Saturday’s game at Yankee Stadium, close to the Chicago White Sox.
“Basically I tried to say Jackie Robinson: ‘What’s up, Jackie? Anderson said after the Sox’s 7–5 loss, what led to a discussion with Donaldson after the third inning. “He made the comment and it was insulting and I don’t think it was called for. It was unnecessary.”
The benches were cleared before Donaldson’s at-bat in the fifth inning.
Donaldson admitted after the game, “I called him Jackie,” later adding: “I thought it was a joke between him and me because we’ve talked about it before. … He called himself Jackie Robinson.” So I thought it was funny between us.”
This explanation did not please Hendrix.
“Usually you joke with people you get along with, not people who don’t get along at all,” Hendrix said on Sunday. “So that statement there was the whole bull (sleep).
“My feelings towards the person in question are very well documented in the fact that we don’t get along. The fact is I’ve spoken to four different clubhouses now and in total, none of them get along So trying to complete that narrative and be completely bull (sleep).”
Donaldson’s “Jackie” reference is to a 2019 Sports Illustrated article that surfaced shortly after news of Anderson’s bat flip and subsequent plunking against the Kansas City Royals.
The “have-fun barrier” is discussed in the article.
“I feel like the Jackie Robinson of today,” Anderson said in the article. “That’s too big to say. But it’s cool, man, because he changed the game, and I think I’m getting to the point where I need to change the game.”
The article pointed out in the next sentence that Anderson’s “point is more nuanced than it may seem.”
Donaldson said on Saturday: “I don’t mean by any fact of the matter a word trying to be racist. It was far from just an interview.”
He later added: “Just trying to diffuse it, light it up like, ‘Hey, we’re not trying to start a controversy or anything like that.’ Obviously he believed it was disrespectful and I apologize if he did. I was not trying to do that in any way.”
Hendrix said Donaldson’s remarks during the game were “totally unacceptable”.
“And then trying to whip it like an inside joke is the horse (sleep),” Hendrix said. “They don’t have that kind of stuff going on. It’s like getting into an argument, like having an inside joke with someone you’re an enemy with, per se.
“It doesn’t. It didn’t happen in this clubhouse and I don’t understand how he thought about it. It’s just an illusion.”
Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal exchanged words with Donaldson before the fifth inning bat, and both the dugout and bullpen were emptied.
“I’m really happy with (Grendel’s) decision to face him at the plate,” Hendrix said. “It shows how strong this clubhouse is. It shows the brotherhood in this clubhouse that is going on between us. We are going to bat for everyone in this clubhouse, no matter who they are. Whatever it is, we’re going to take care of them.
“(Socks manager) Tony (La Russa) wears shirts that say ‘family’ every day, and that’s it, a family. We take care of ourselves, and if something happens that doesn’t feel right, we Going to talk.”
La Russa said on Sunday that he was “looking forward to see what the Yankee organization has to say.”
“It’s not really important what I’m saying here,” La Russa said. “(Yankees manager) Aaron (Bone), he’s between a rock and a hard place. I know him, I know his family and I know he doesn’t obey.
“But I’m really looking forward to hearing what the Yankees say. I know what they represent, right? ‘God Bless America'[in]the seventh inning. So I’m waiting to hear that.” I am what they say.”
Boone told reporters he spoke to Donaldson after Saturday’s game and believed his player’s explanation – but also thought Donaldson should not have commented.
“What has been going on between both players and both teams over the past week or two, I certainly understand how sensitive it will be and can understand the reaction,” Boone said. “I also understand that Josh is very forthcoming with its history and its context. So I don’t believe there was any malicious intent in this regard.
“But that’s just my opinion – (that) nowhere he should go.”
According to reports, Major League Baseball is looking into the incident.
“Whenever they reach a conclusion, I’m sure you’ll hear it,” La Russa said. “I know you’ve been watching MLB. That’s why I said I’m curious to know what the Yankees are saying because MLB has been clear over the years how they feel about that.
“I hope that (Yankees) will resonate with Major League Baseball, where there is no situation where it will be tolerated. I have long respected the Yankees organization, so I am just curious.”