Red Sox

‘Obviously what he did was wrong’: Joe Kelly shared his thoughts on Josh Donaldson

"You usually have inside jokes with people you’re really close with."

Joe Kelly Josh Donaldson
Joe Kelly pitching against the Yankees on Sunday. AP Photo/John Minchillo

Former Red Sox relief pitcher Joe Kelly became the latest player to weigh in on the subject of Josh Donaldson’s comment to Tim Anderson.

Anderson, Kelly’s White Sox teammate, was called “Jackie” by the Yankees’ third baseman during a game between the two teams on Saturday. It was in reference to Jackie Robinson, and was seen by Anderson — who is Black — as a “disrespectful comment.”

Chicago manager Tony La Russa called it “racist.”

“I don’t really play like that,” Anderson said afterward. “I don’t really play at all. I wasn’t really bothering nobody today but he made the comment and it was disrespectful. It was unnecessary. It was just uncalled for.”


Donaldson — who is white — claimed afterward that the comment was in reference to a 2019 Sports Illustrated story in which Anderson said he feels like “today’s Jackie Robinson.”

“We’ve actually joked about that,” Donaldson said. “I’ve said it to him in years past, not in any manner than just joking around.”

Another of Anderson’s Chicago teammates, closer Liam Hendriks, doubted Donaldson’s version of the story.

“That’s completely inappropriate, and then after hearing what was said after the game, usually you have inside jokes with the people you get along with, not people that don’t get along at all,” Hendriks told reporters of Donaldson’s explanation. “So that statement right there was complete bulls***.”

Kelly, speaking after the series, concurred, noting also that he agreed with the league’s decision to suspend Donaldson for a game.

“Obviously what he did was wrong,” Kelly said during a Monday interview with NBC Sports Chicago. “Hence why he got suspended one game, if it wasn’t wrong there would be no suspension. And Josh Donaldson apologized so obviously he knew he was wrong.

“But, in a moment like that, when you make a racist remark to someone that is No. 1, on the other team and No. 2, not your friend, and then say it was an inside joke. [It’s] kind of like what Liam [Hendriks] said, you usually have inside jokes with people you’re really close with.”


It wasn’t the only Monday interview Kelly had about the matter. During an earlier appearance on the “Parkins & Spiegel Show” on 670 The Score, he had a more blunt take on Donaldson.

“That guy is a d*****,” said Kelly, adding that despite Donaldson’s characterization of his past interactions with Anderson, “they’re not friends.”

One part of the league’s decision that Kelly questioned was over the length of Donaldon’s suspension. Upon hearing that it was a one-game suspension, Kelly had a quick retort.

“I got suspended eight games for making a silly face,” Kelly said, calling back to his 2020 suspension while a member of the Dodgers.


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