TAMPA — On just the second day of camp, Yankees manager Aaron Boone already has been forced to deal with a potential issue in the Yankees clubhouse because of the return of Domingo German from his domestic violence suspension.
“You don’t get to control who your teammates are and that’s the situation. I don’t agree with what [German] did,” Zack Britton said Thursday. “I don’t think it has any place in the game or off the field or at all.”
A day later, Boone said he’s giving even more attention to the situation.
“I would say it’s, I guess, put a little strength in my antenna as far as something that I’m looking at more closely,” Boone said Friday.
Britton also defended his position on Twitter when someone questioned why he was “worried about” German after the 28-year-old was “punished for his mistakes and you still don’t know the circumstances of what took place.”
“You think I don’t know the circumstances? Get a clue bud,’’ Britton said in response. “[I] was asked the question BTW, gave my answer. Don’t care if you are sensitive to it.”
German is expected to compete for the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation after serving the remainder of his 81-game ban last season following the 2019 incident. Boone, general manager Brian Cashman and bench coach Carlos Mendoza spoke with German before spring training opened, but that has not made the issue disappear.
Asked if he believed Britton, a respected member of the team — who also has played a significant role in the MLB Players Association — was speaking just for himself or for his teammates, Boone said, “I think [Britton] answered a direct question honestly.”
“I’m sure there’s a thousand shades of gray about how guys feel when serious situations come up away from the field and I’m sure that it exists throughout our clubhouse,’’ Boone said. “So like I said, it’s something that my antenna is up on and we’ll continue to try and monitor it and watch it and handle it the best way possible.”
Boone has not yet asked German to speak with his teammates.
“I’m not ready to say that Domingo needs to go and address the team,” Boone said. “I don’t think that, at this point, is something that I want to make somebody do. I think that needs to be something that comes from within and is authentic. But it is something that I’m looking at and trying to pay attention to as best I can because obviously, we’re dealing with a serious issue.”
As far as how German has performed on the field in the early part of spring training, Boone said he “looked great” and is “physically in really good condition and shape.”
Pitching coach Matt Blake added he has been “pleasantly surprised” by how German has thrown the ball after his first bullpen session Friday.
However, that’s just part of what German has to work on this spring. Given his other past missteps, which have mostly involved concerning messages on social media, it’s fair to wonder how German will handle the scrutiny.
“Look, we’re all human. You know?” Boone said. “The reality is, it’s been a year and a half now where obviously he’s been through a lot in his life and has suffered from a career standpoint. So, yeah, of course I’m going to be sensitive to how he’s responding and reacting to things that aren’t just as simple as the baseball-related stuff, and I’m trying to be concerned about how it’s impacting him. … We’re dealing with a person’s life and livelihood and we want to be part of helping that situation.”