Yankees send a clear message to Josh Donaldson early in spring training


Josh Donaldson, New York Yankees (Photo by New York Yankees/Getty Images)

Josh Donaldson, New York Yankees (Photo by New York Yankees/Getty Images)

Josh Donaldson’s placement for split squad games on Sunday was a very clear message that he has some work to do to prove himself.

Sometimes, lines need to be drawn. The New York Yankees are doing so early in spring training by sending Josh Donaldson to play with the B-squad.

The Yankees won two split-squad spring training games on Sunday afternoon, one against the Atlanta Braves, at home at George Steinbrenner field, and another away against the division-rival Toronto Blue Jays.

Notably, the home game featured several Yankee stars and starters from last year: Gleyber Torres, Aaron Judge, Jose Trevino, Clarke Schmidt, and even Aaron Hicks. That game was a pitching masterpiece, as the Yankees shut the Braves out, 7-0.

The Yankees won their other game against the Blue Jays 9-5, a game that featured no starting players from last year, with one exception: Josh Donaldson. In the home game, Wilmer Difo got the start at third base over Donaldson.

Josh Donaldson has to prove himself in spring training, clearly

The only thing clearer than this sign in spring training is the new pitch clock behind home plate. Donaldson got sent to the B-team. Not even Hicks joined him with that squad. His work is cut out for him to prove himself after a disappointing first year in pinstripes.

Donaldson slashed .222/.308/.374 in 2022. Each of those was one of the bottom three in that stat category of his entire career thus far. He did not come even close to living up to the expectations the team had for him when they acquired him in the trade.

While it’s hard to believe that Donaldson is even close to losing his starting job (mostly because, outside of DJ LeMahieu who will play all over the infield as a utility man, they have no one else at the position), this has to be viewed as a wake-up call.

Sure, Aaron Boone will say that the Yankees are bullish in their belief in a bounce-back year from Donaldson, but go ahead and find a clip where Boone says anything remotely critical of his players, even when it would be warranted and motivating to do so.

And yes, as NJ.com pointed out, the Blue Jays game was also just five minutes from his home vs 20 to the other game, but we’re really supposed to believe that’s a reason for sending a regular starter to the B-game? His commute? Are the Yankees really that cognizant of their carbon footprint?

Donaldson, to his credit, didn’t take it the wrong way. He knows his work is cut out for him.

“You take it at one day at a time,” he saidto NJ.com. “I feel like the work that I’ve done in the offseason, I’m ready to go out there and do what’s expected of me. I want to go out there and play hard and play well and help our team win.”

It’s spring training, so we’re reading through the lines in a major way here, but what else is there to do in March before real games have started?