"That's the guy that that clubhouse looks to," said starter Jon Lester, who gets the nod in Tuesday's American League Wild Card Game against the Royals. "Obviously, we can see him running around the bases isn't too comfortable, but he continues to go out there and grind and give us quality at-bats, and give us really, really good defense at third."
If Donaldson can walk, he plays. That's essentially the message he's sent to manager Bob Melvin, who has repeatedly called his infielder's ongoing efforts of playing so banged up "an inspiration" to his teammates. Donaldson has battled hip and hamstring issues down the stretch, too.
The All-Star didn't bother to try running on Monday during the A's optional workout at Kauffman Stadium in an attempt to give his knee a full day of rest, but Donaldson did say, "It felt better today, more stable, and that's always a positive sign.
"We'll see how it's going to react tomorrow."
"JD is obviously a very, very important part of this team, and hopefully he can hopefully not let this stuff hurt him for the next couple weeks and we can get him on a little bit of a hot streak," said Lester, "and ride him out through the postseason."
Amid much hype surrounding his place in the AL MVP discussion last year, Donaldson stumbled on the postseason stage, going just 3-for-22 without an RBI in a five-game AL Division Series loss to the Tigers.
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.