TAMPA, Fla. — Domingo German decided he had a bit more work to do first.
The righthander, coming off an 81-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy — resulting from an alleged incident involving his girlfriend at and in the aftermath of CC Sabathia's charity event in September 2019 — was scheduled to address the media Sunday afternoon.
But on Sunday morning, German chose to delay that, deciding that his teammates should hear from him before the media and public did.
That decision, though encouraged by Aroldis Chapman — who served his own suspension for violating MLB’s domestic abuse policy — likely was influenced even more by Zack Britton's comments last week.
"It is important to me that I have the opportunity to speak directly with my teammates, both individually and collectively, and address them face-to- face before I speak to the media and our fans," German said Sunday morning in a statement released through the team. "This process has begun, but more time is needed, especially since half our team has yet to report to spring training. I recognize that speaking publicly will be an important step for me and I will do so in the upcoming days."
Chapman, who served a 30-game suspension for violating the then-new MLB domestic violence policy in 2016, said he spoke at length with German on Saturday.
"It is definitely a private conversation. I don't want to give out any details about it," Chapman said through his interpreter. "But I had a good opportunity to chat with him and speak frankly with him."
His primary advice was reflected in German’s statement.
"That's one of the things we spoke about, how important it would be to speak to all your teammates," Chapman said. "Sometimes we even spend more time here than with our own families at home. And that feeling of having a family within this clubhouse, it's always there … I told him I felt it was important to address your family first, your teammates here, before you spoke to the media. I thought it was important to do so with your teammates, and I think it will be very beneficial for him when he does so."
Britton’s comments on Thursday, however, were the ones that shook the organization a bit. It let the team hierarchy, including managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, general manager Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone — each of whom ultimately green-lit giving German a second chance — know there could be a clubhouse problem awaiting the pitcher.
"Sometimes you don’t get to control who your teammates are, and that’s the situation," Britton said. "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."
Boone acknowledged he did not do as good a job as he should have in soliciting thoughts from other players regarding German, who continued to make news during the suspension, and even after it, with a handful of cryptic posts on Instagram.
"One of my jobs is constantly trying to take the temperature of our guys and what's going on," Boone said.
He later added: "It’s a very serious issue. It's a very serious thing that went on, and certainly an unacceptable thing that went on."
Boone said that because of COVID-19 protocols, German, who uses an interpreter, will meet and speak with his teammates in a variety of ways. As for the manager, he’s had multiple sitdowns with German.
"Brian [Cashman] and I, going back to even last year before the pandemic, last spring, we had a very long conversation with Domingo," Boone said. "Had it again before this [spring training]. I think ultimately ‘Am I satisfied?’ the proof is going to be in the behavior and how he does and how he lives his life. That's going to be where the proof [is]. He can say all the right things . . . so he was in a place to be able to come back to camp. Now he's got to not only between the lines earn his place back on this team but also in the way he lives out his life."