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TAMPA, Fla. — Domingo German finally faced his teammates on Tuesday. The 28-year-old pitcher who served most of an 81-game suspension under the MLB/MLBPA joint domestic violence policy for a September 2019 incident, spoke with the pitchers and catchers as a group first. Then he came across the street to meet with position players, Aaron Boone said.
“I think it gave everyone a chance to kind of get in the room and really start that conversation. If there’s any conversations to be had, individually, which I think have happened, but I think it sets the table to continue having those conversations, while also, as a team, really coming around and trying to support Domingo and helping him move forward,” the Yankees manager said. “Now, I think the proof is going to be in what’s ahead, in how he is as a teammate and how he is and in life in general. And hopefully we can all be there to support and help him become the best version of himself.”
Boone called the talks “impactful.”
“I mean, we’ll see how things unfold. I feel like he has his teammates’ support,” Boone said. “And we’ll see how that manifests itself over the coming days and weeks.”
The right-hander has a lot of eyes on how he uses this second chance, including some who were very critical of him within the clubhouse.
Thursday, the first official day that pitchers and catchers worked out, reliever Zack Britton made it clear that there were players in the clubhouse who were not happy with the idea of German being welcomed back.
“Sometimes you don’t get to control who your teammates are,” Britton said. “That’s the situation. I don’t agree with what he did. I don’t think it has any place in the game or off the field at all.”
Britton’s words carry a lot of weight in the Yankees clubhouse and throughout baseball. Boone said he had not realized that German’s return would be as controversial in the clubhouse.
Britton had doubled down on his comments that night on Twitter. When a fan defended German, Britton made it clear the details of the September 2019 incident were known within the clubhouse and not something he could dismiss.
Coincidentally, on Sunday the details of the incident leaked.
That included German slapping his girlfriend at a charity event for former teammate CC Sabathia where much of the Yankees major league organization was in attendance. The report said the incident continued at the home German shared with his girlfriend until she locked herself in a room and called the wife of one of German’s teammates to come and help her. That couple came to the residence to try and help, but the report said it was another Yankee employee who reported the incident to MLB. The incident was never reported to police.
At that point, the Yankees decided to postpone German’s first public comments until after he could address his teammates.
The divide, however, is obviously not insurmountable in the clubhouse and the organization has already proven it’s willing to give second chances.
The Yankees dealt for Aroldis Chapman after a domestic violence incident in 2015 had come to light. He was suspended 30 games, which delayed his Yankees debut. Chapman apologized for the incident during which he fired a gun eight times in his garage, by pointing out he did not hurt anyone.
German is also returning to a team that needs starting pitching.
They come into camp with high hopes for their rotation, but concerns about injuries and experience. German went 18-4 with a 4.03 ERA in 24 starts and three relief appearances over 143 innings in 2019. He could be an important depth piece in a year when pitching depth will be the key.