Donaldson crams 17 innings of contribution into one win
By: Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
MINNEAPOLIS _ Josh Donaldson thought he had short changed Blue Jays fans on Saturday.
In a case of mistaken obscenity he was ejected by ump Toby Basner four pitches into the game.
So the reigning MVP tried to cram 17 innings of contribution into Sunday afternoon’s game with his bat, glove, glare and mouth as he did a post-game TV interview as Manitoba and Saskatchewan fans serenading him with MVP chants and when asked took to the post-game pulpit.
He addressed the state of the game, the weekend series, being buzzed twice by Phil Hughes in the fifth and whomever was yapping from inside the Twins dugout.
One pitch shy of exactly 24 hours after being kicked out Saturday for yelling at the Twins dugout when the ump thought the insult was directed at him, Donaldson went where few go homering 425 feet away to straightaway centre.
Donaldson crossed home and rather than pointing to the heavens like most continued across the dirt portion all the while starring into the Twins dugout before making an abrupt right and heading to the Jays dugout.
“I looked right at the guy who chirped me yesterday and got me thrown out, I was letting him know I was coming to play today,” Donaldson told reporters. “Don’t comment on the way I play. It’s not your business how I play. I’m not on your team. If someone has a problem with the way I play my manager or teammates will say something to me, not the other team.”
While Donaldson said it was the former third base coach from last year (last year’s third base coach Gene Glynn is still at third) it was likely the former third base coach Joe Vavra, a bench coach on Paul Molitor’s staff.
Donaldson said he did not speak to Basner, working third Sunday (“why am I going to speak to him, so I can get kicked out again?”).
It all began when the Twins dugout didn’t like the first pitch Saturday which was called a ball, Donaldson didn’t like the third pitch, a strike, and complained. He bounced to short on the next pitch didn’t hard run all the way as someone from the Twins dugout yelled “nice hustle.”
Donaldson cursed on his way to the dugout and Basner thinking it was meant for him, tossed the third baseman.
The Jays may be fighting an uphill battle against the American League East, but are they also waging another battle complaining about ball-strike and safe-out calls with the men in blue?
Does Donaldson think more close calls go against the Jays than when he was a member of the Oakland A’s or the Chicago Cubs?
“That’s something we’re looking into, we’re looking into it right now,” Donaldson told reporters as he touched almost as many bases as his first-inning home run trot while at his locker.
He was upset that Hughes could throw at him and not be ejected, Hughes’ first pitch was inside pitch and the next was behind his back.
Donaldson complained, and rightly so, to plate ump Mark Ripperger, before walking away as John Gibbons saved his player but the manager was ejected by crew chief Joe West.
“Major league baseball has to do something about this,” he said post-game. “They talk about trying to protect players. They put in a sliding rule at second so you can’t slide past the base. They make a rule to protect catchers on slides at home.
“It says in the rules you can’t throw at hitters. Yet when someone throws a pitch at a batter ... nothing. My manager comes out to ask a question and gets thrown out. It doesn’t make any sense to me. It gets to the point where two balls are thrown at me.”
Donaldson said the rule book reads if a pitcher “throws at somebody, the ump can” kick him out.
“Do I think Phil Hughes threw at me? No,” Donaldson said. “Someone on their bench ordered him to. My problem is not with Hughes. It’s throwing at a guy who is defenceless. I’m not going to throw my bat back at the pitcher.”
Hughes walked one man Sunday and has now issued nine free passes in 48 2/3 innings.
“He probably knew something was coming,” said Trevor Plouffe, “he wasn’t happy with what happened yesterday. I don’t know what happened, but I heard that he thought someone said something in our dugout so he said something then he got thrown out. Then today he hit the home run and looked straight into our dugout. I’m pretty sure he knew there was something coming. Things like that tend to take care of themselves. He’s played the game long enough. He knows.”
Donaldson said he does not understand why any youngster would want to play the game “because if you do something good -- the pitcher says to himself ‘OK, I’m going to throw at you’ a guy who is standing there defenceless.”
“I’ve talked to old time ball players and they tell me how Nolan Ryan used to pitch inside all the time, but throwing at guys is putting guys their careers in jeopardy. Look what happened to Giancarlo Stanton.”
Stanton was hit in the face by Milwaukee Brewers Mike Fiers on Sept. 11, 2014 sustaining multiple facial fractures, dental damage and cuts requiring stitches and missed the remainder of the season.
“It was good to have him back, for nine innings, playing MVP calibre baseball,” said Kevin Pillar.
In the field Donaldson bare-handed a slow roller off the bat of Brian Dozier and threw on the run for the first out, then made back-to-back fine fielding plays on ground balls off the bat of Eduardo Nunez and Joe Mauer in the third.
“That first one,” said winning pitcher Marcus Stroman, “that’s a hit 99 times out of 100. That man was on a mission today ... he’s always on a mission: 24/7.”
Jose Bautista called Donaldson the most athletic third baseman he has played with in 12 years.
“You can’t throw at a guy, just because he didn’t run to first base the day before,” said Bautista.
The last word goes to Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki, a former Oakland teammate.
“I’ve known JD for a long time,” said Suzuki. “He’s a great guy, a competitor. It was a heat of the moment kind of thing and things were done and all that extracurricular stuff. We’ll leave it at that.
“He plays the game the right way. He plays the game hard. He might do some stuff that annoys people but at the same time he understands what he’s bringing upon himself, you respect him for that.”