TAMPA — Imagine you’re Aaron Boone, or Brian Cashman, or Hal Steinbrenner.
It’s Wednesday night and you’re getting ready for the annual holiday that is the first pitchers and catchers workouts the next morning. You’ve got scores of COVID-specific details to handle plus the standard desire to launch your desired championship run with the right first step.
Then you get alerted that Domingo German, already on thin ice, has set Instagram aflame again.
At what point do you decide the right-hander’s upside doesn’t merit the agita he creates? The Yankees should be approaching that point. They must, for the good of everyone else they employ.
After all, when your team’s player representative, Zack Britton, one of the more affable humans to ever roam the Earth, proclaims, “Sometimes you don’t get to control who your teammates are and that’s the situation,” as he did Thursday about his fellow pitcher, that speaks volumes about German’s status here.
On Thursday, after officially kicking off his fourth season on the job at the Yankees’ minor league complex, Boone acknowledged he had indeed spoken with German, trying to return from an 81-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence protocols, about his latest screwup, an Instagram post Wednesday that proclaimed, in Spanish, “everything is over.”
“When I first heard about it last night and saw it, it was brought to my attention, I was taken aback a little bit and immediately concerned,” Boone acknowledged. “But I do feel like [it was] maybe a little bit out of context. A little bit overblown. And I am confident that he’s doing fine and doing well and ready to compete.
“But it is something we’ll continue to watch and as best we can try and make sure he’s in a good place. But I had the conversation about trying to be as smart and choosy as we can be about some of the things we’re expressing publicly.”
A perfectly rational place to start would be for German to lift himself from the social media game. Said Boone: “I don’t feel like I’m in a position to tell somebody how they’re going to express themselves or whatever.” Oddly enough, I feel like I am in such a position. For even if this specific post was truly out of context and/or overblown, German has long lost the benefit of the doubt.
German hardly became the first ballplayer to commit a terrible act of domestic violence, when he did so on Sept. 16, 2019. However, over the five-plus years of these protocols’ existence in Major League Baseball, it’s hard to think of someone who has set off more red flags since getting caught. In February 2020, while his teammates worked at George M. Steinbrenner Field, German, instructed to stay in his native Dominican Republic, was involved in a dune-buggy accident, making headlines despite his absence.
And after the pandemic shutdown, which ensured that his penalty would keep him out of the game for over a year, German posted on Instagram last July that he had “left baseball.” Like the words he put up on Wednesday, those sentiments quickly vanished, courtesy of the delete function.
In a vacuum, each of the 28-year-old’s more recent actions can be explained away due to immaturity. Collectively, in the wake of his worst moment, they paint a picture of a young man who doesn’t have his act together.
Britton, asked if German owes anything to him and his Yankees teammates, responded, “I think that’s something he’s going to have to deal with on his own and make better choices going forward.”
German, not yet eligible for arbitration, will be making less than $1 million this season. The Yankees can release him without breaking an economic sweat. Baseball-wise, while we’ve seen German pitch pretty well at times, especially in 2019 before his suspension began, he isn’t so amazing that the Yankees can’t prevail without him.
How about zero tolerance moving forward? One more distraction or declaration of stupidity and German becomes an ex-Yankee? When one of your most respected players seemingly wants nothing to do with him, it sounds quite reasonable, if not downright overly generous.