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Domingo German sat down in front of a microphone and camera Wednesday afternoon to address, for the first time, albeit virtually, his partner’s domestic abuse and subsequent 81-game ban that kept him out of the entire 2020 Major League Baseball season.
German, a 28-year-old pitcher, came back to the Yankees at the start of spring training last week and was due to speak to reporters on Sunday. But after a seasoned player, the Reliever Zack Britton, had strong words about the situation, Yankees manager Aaron Boone admitted his antenna had gotten stronger and Deutsch eventually decided it was best to speak privately to teammates, before going public.
“I would like to take this opportunity, before I answer your questions, to sincerely apologize to the Steinbrenner family, my teammates, the front office and the people close to me who love me,” German said on Wednesday in Spanish and read one Opening speech. “I’ve made mistakes I’m not proud of, so I apologize.”
German then apologized for failing to help his teammates in the 2019 playoffs, which he missed when he was investigated by the league over his violent actions against his partner in September. He thanked Yankees general managers Brian Cashman and Boone for being patient and helping, and he vowed to prove himself on the team. He also apologized for his cryptic messages on social media. (Last summer he wrote that he was leaving baseball, and last week he wrote that “it was definitely over,” along with his partner’s initials.)
He didn’t mention his partner, with whom he has at least one child, until the question and answer phase of his press conference.
German was in the middle of a 2019 career season when he injured his partner after a charity gala in Manhattan hosted by teammate CC Sabathia while intoxicated, according to a league investigation, the details of which were unknown upon the German’s suspension were announced in January 2020.
Deutsch, who like others collaborated on the investigation, did not appeal the discipline. He missed the remainder of the 2019 regular season and postseason, as well as the entire 2020 season shortened by the pandemic.
While the police were not involved in the case, the league learned of the incident through a chain of people in and around the Yankees who had heard about it from Germany’s partners. (The league put her in touch with domestic violence experts.) Some of the Yankees’ clubhouse know what happened that night. His partner contacted the wife of one of his teammates, and the couple came to their home the night of the incident to help.
When Britton was asked last week how the team would get German after his suspension ended, his brutal honesty pushed the Yankees and Deutsch to reevaluate how they would handle his reintegration.
“I don’t think he owes me anything,” said Britton. “I think he has to take care of things outside of the field. Sometimes you can’t control who your teammates are and that is the situation. I disagree with what he did. I don’t think it has any place in the game or off the field. “
He later added, “My job is to go out and do my job. This is exactly what I am about. But he doesn’t owe me anything. This is something he has to deal with for himself and make better decisions in the future. “
Later that day, Britton responded to criticism of his comments on Twitter by partially writing, “Do you think I don’t know the circumstances?”
Boone said he didn’t want to force German to address his teammates because he wanted it to be authentic. He admitted that he hadn’t measured the clubhouse temperature as well in terms of German as I should have.
Yankees closer to Aroldis Chapman, who was banned for 30 games in 2016 for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy, said he had a long conversation with Deutsch over the weekend and explained the importance of addressing the situation. Deutsch did so on Tuesday, the first day of full squad training, speaking to the Yankees in two groups due to league rules restricting large gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.
“He messed up life,” said Luke Voit, the Yankees’ first baseman, after Germany’s public apology on Wednesday. “I can’t tolerate anything he did. He gets a second chance. We have his back, but he’s walking on thin ice and has to bring his life together. I think he’s taking the right steps, but here too he has to prove to us that he can do it. “
Last fall, Hal Steinbrenner, the managing partner of the team, said in a radio interview for the return of German that he must feel comfortable when Deutsch regrets both his actions and has turned his life around. Deutsch said he didn’t speak to Steinbrenner, but Cashman and Boone had long conversations with him twice.
“He’s done enough to deserve the opportunity to be here, to compete, and to be part of this team,” said Boone. “Now the evidence in daily life is that he leads.”
German, who once mentioned his partner by name during his press conference, said he was staying with her. He said the counseling hired by MLB as part of his treatment program helped him improve his relationship with her.
When asked what he did to make sure his partner felt safe, he said, “We have had a lot of conversations about how this won’t happen again. We will be able to communicate better at home. “
German said he continued to have good relationships with Britton and appreciated the advice he had given him. He said he wants to talk to younger players about how to avoid the pitfalls of his life. For the past year and a half, away from the Yankees, he said he learned to think before acting, to avoid bad habits, and to seek help if he should have problems.
As for fans or teammates who may never see him again or who feel uncomfortable when they cheer him on, German said: “I’m ready to change, to be a different person, and I’ll do that with mine and mine Actions show actions. “