Josh Donaldson responds to Lucas Giolito – Chicago Tribune

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Josh Donaldson didn’t mind being called a “pest.”

“I kind of almost consider that a compliment,” the Twins third baseman told Minnesota reporters Wednesday.

Donaldson hit a two-run home run off Giolito in the first inning, and on his way to the dugout he allegedly said something along the lines of “It’s not sticky anymore” — a reference to baseball’s crackdown on foreign substances.

Giolito, who allowed three runs in six-plus strong innings to earn the win, didn’t hear Donaldson in the moment but found out afterward.

During his postgame news conference, Giolito said: “He’s a (bleeping) pest. That’s kind of a classless move. If you’re going to talk (bleep), talk (bleep) to my face. Don’t go across home plate and do all that. Just come to me.

“It’s just annoying. We won. The W’s next to my name. They’re in last place.”

Donaldson fired back Wednesday.

“A couple things I have a problem with,” he said. “He calls me ‘classless.’ I didn’t think I was showing him up during the game. I was talking to my bench. I wasn’t pimping my home run. I wasn’t talking to him. Obviously, he showed offense to what I said, which I think kind of speaks more about the looming question that’s going on, which is: Was he using sticky stuff before all of this happened in the first place?

“If he wasn’t, then he probably wouldn’t have cared about that comment. When you look at it, you say, OK, let’s go look at his numbers. What do the numbers say? And what do we know about the sticky stuff? What does it do? What does it help with? It helps with RPMs. It helps with spin rate. Guess what, Mr. Giolito? Your spin rate is down 200. Your curveball spin rate is down 400 or 500. Your slider is down 200.

“So look, if we are going to talk about class, what side are you going to choose? Are you going to take the side of someone who is playing the game fair? Or are you going to take the side of somebody that was probably cheating before this happened? And I wasn’t going to go on air. I already knew all those numbers before this. I could have come out to the media about this and spoke on this before. I chose not to. I say that to my dugout because we all talk about it before the game.

“Trust me, it’s a hot topic among all of baseball. And if you look at my at bats prior to last night off Lucas Giolito, I hadn’t taken many swings like that off of Giolito. The first pitch I see, I take it deep on a ball I hit 111 mph. I’m kind of giving more reassurance to our dugout, like, ‘Hey, let’s go, let’s go get him.’ Because the Lucas Giolito the past couple of years has been a pretty good pitcher and has been tough on this team as well as a lot of other teams.”

White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito stands by as Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run in the first inning at Guaranteed Rate Field on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.

White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito stands by as Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run in the first inning at Guaranteed Rate Field on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. (Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune)

Donaldson was just getting warmed up.

“The last thing, he said, ‘I wish he had said it to my face,’ ” Donaldson said. “Well, I did say it to his face. We had a talk last night, and let’s just be quite frank with this, he didn’t have much to say. It’s real easy to sit here behind the screen and talk tough. That’s not what I’m trying to do. I could have (done) that before the game, I could blast him all I want, I could blast a lot guys. I choose not to.”

Giolito wasn’t available for comment Wednesday.

Donaldson extended the war of words to former Sox player and manager Ozzie Guillén, now a studio analyst for NBC Sports Chicago.

“I got Ozzie Guillén talking (bleep) on the air, saying that, ‘I’d let one go, hit him in the ribs,’ ” Donaldson said. “Ozzie Guillén, you were under a career .700 OPS hitter, man. You were a three-time All-Star and you had an under-.700 OPS. My worst season in the big leagues is 150 points higher than that.”

Guillén responded during Wednesday’s pregame show, saying in part: “Big mistake Minnesota made was signing that kid as a free agent. Now they’re stuck with him.”

While there is distance in the standings — the Sox entered Wednesday’s game 12½ games ahead of the Twins — there’s clearly still plenty of heat between the teams.