Tension has elevated between the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees over the last two weekends, especially with Tim Anderson and Josh Donaldson.
That tension escalated on Saturday after Anderson, who is Black, accused Donaldson of directing a racial comment toward him.
Donaldson, who is white, denied any racial intent and said it was a joke stemming from an interview Anderson gave to Sports Illustrated in 2019 when the Chicago leadoff man said: "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."
It is unknown if any tension will spill over to the field on Sunday when the teams play a single-admission doubleheader at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees are 24-5 in their past 29 games after DJ LeMahieu hit a grand slam in Saturday's 7-5 win. That game, however, featured a pair of shouting matches between Anderson and Donaldson in the third and fifth innings.
"He just made a disrespectful comment," Anderson said. "Basically, he was trying to call me Jackie Robinson. Like, 'What's up, Jackie?' I don't play like that."
Donaldson rounded second base following the final out of the third inning and began jawing with Anderson as both teams exited the field. In the fifth, Chicago catcher Yasmani Grandal stood up from his crouch and confronted Donaldson as he approached the plate.
"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. "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 could face disciplinary action for what unfolded Saturday.
The Yankees hope the slugger they acquired from Minnesota in spring training does not engage in another incident with the White Sox. On May 13 in Chicago, Donaldson sparred with Anderson following a hard tag at third. Anderson responded with a shove, resulting in the clearing of the benches and bullpens.
The Yankees are looking to continue their roll after beating the White Sox for the 10th time in the past 12 meetings Saturday.
Chicago is 4-6 over its past 10 games and hopes to use a healthier lineup. Jose Abreu hit a three-run homer while dealing with an upper respiratory infection, and Yoan Moncada was held out of the starting lineup with right-leg soreness.
In the first game on Sunday, right-hander Johnny Cueto (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will make his second start since joining Chicago. In his season debut, he allowed two hits and threw 81 pitches over six scoreless innings in Monday's 5-3 win in Kansas City.
Cueto is 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA in five career starts against the Yankees.
Right-hander Jameson Taillon (4-1, 3.28), who is 3-0 with a 3.31 ERA in his past three starts, will go for the Yankees in the opener. Taillon, who allowed three runs in five innings of Wednesday's 5-4 win in Baltimore, has three no-decisions and a 2.87 ERA in his three lifetime starts against the White Sox.
Chicago's Michael Kopech (0-1, 1.54), who struggled with command a week ago against the Yankees, will start the nightcap after spending time on the paternity list. The right-hander issued four walks and allowed three runs in six innings when he threw 42 of his 91 pitches in the second inning. He is 0-1 with a 4.32 ERA in three career appearances (one start) vs. New York.
Right-hander Luis Severino (3-0, 3.63), who allowed one run and one hit in six innings during Monday's 6-2 win in Baltimore, will start the nightcap for the Yankees. Severino is 2-2 with a 4.11 ERA in five career starts against the White Sox.
--Field Level Media