Pitchers and catchers have officially reported to spring training for the New York Yankees, and that means Domingo German is once again on the team's radar.
The right-handed pitcher was suspended for 81 games last January for a violation of MLB's domestic violence policy. Thanks to the truncation of the 2020 season, that suspension lasted into last year's playoffs, keeping him away from the team until this week. That return meant plenty of questions about German for those in the Yankee organization, and at least one player doesn't seem pleased about sharing a clubhouse with him.
When asked about what German has to do to be accepted again by his teammates, Yankees setup man Zack Britton was blunt:
"That's a tough question. I don't think [German] owes anything to me. I think it's off-the-field stuff that he needs to take care of. Sometimes you don't get to control who your teammates are. 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. I don't think he owes anything to me. My job is to go out there and pitch and do my job, so that's what my concern is right there. He doesn't owe me anything. I think that's something that he's going to have to deal with on his own and make better choices going forward."
Britton later doubled down on Twitter when a fan admonished him for speaking about German, saying he is well aware of the still-murky events that got German suspended:
Hah you think I don’t know the circumstances? Get a clue bud. Was asked the question BTW, gave my answer. Don’t care if you are sensitive to it. https://t.co/sIMBwkrFHY
— Zack Britton (@zbritton) February 18, 2021
It's been an unusual trail back for German, who had something resembling a breakout season in 2019 when he led the Yankees in wins while posting a 4.03 ERA. First, there was the reported dune buggy accident during spring training last year. Then he briefly appeared to walk away from baseball a few days before the start of the season, and created even more questions when he posted a cryptic message in Spanish proclaiming "everything is over" on Wednesday.
Clearly, the scrutiny of German is going to continue as he nears a return to MLB action, though it's not completely clear how he will make that return. Yankees manager Aaron Boone was non-committal about German's place on a pitching staff long on starting options but short on reliability.
From The New York Post:
“Certainly nothing has been promised,” Boone said of German’s role with the team. “We’re going to be there and try and be supportive as we can moving forward to not only hopefully get the most out of himself on the mound and between the lines, but also becoming the best he can be off the field as well.”
It's probably worth noting that German isn't the only Yankee with past domestic violence offenses, as Britton's bullpen-mate Aroldis Chapman was arrested in 2015 when his girlfriend told police he pushed her against a wall and choked her. Chapman was not charged for the incident, but did receive a 30-game suspension from MLB.
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