CLEARWATER, Fla. — Brian Cashman understands why some Yankees teammates have expressed discomfort with Domingo German’s return to the team following his suspension for domestic violence, but the general manager defended the organization’s handling of the situation.
During the first week of spring training, German’s status emerged as the biggest issue in Yankees camp. The trouble began when Zack Britton — a respected voice on the team — suggested he wasn’t happy with having German as his teammate. Luke Voit also weighed in, saying that German’s suspension had him “skating on thin ice” and Aaron Boone admitted that the German reaction in the clubhouse was something that was now squarely on his radar.
“I don’t have a locker in that locker room, so I can’t speak to what his teammates think,’’ Cashman told The Post by phone. “They have a right to voice their opinion.”
The controversy prompted questions as to whether the organization could have, or should have, been better prepared for German’s re-entry. Boone himself admitted that he didn’t read the clubhouse “as well as I should have.”
German’s first session with the press was even postponed so that the 28-year-old pitcher could first address his teammates.
Cashman, though, explained the Yankees’ handling of German’s return by noting that the organization couldn’t meet with German while he was serving his suspension. He also said that the challenges presented by COVID protocols prevented a meeting with German before he arrived at camp in Tampa, when he met with Cashman, Boone and bench coach Carlos Mendoza.
“Major League Baseball ran the investigation and there were a lot of hurdles that needed to be cleared,’’ Cashman said. “We couldn’t meet with the player until we did.”
Once they did, Cashman said, they “walked through his return to professional baseball.”
“MLB and the union agreed to a suspension and once he served it, he could resume his career,’’ Cashman said. “If it wasn’t here [with the Yankees], it would be somewhere else.”
Following German’s apology, the right-hander said he had a good conversation with Britton. His mea culpa also appeared to be well-received by most of his teammates.
Cashman noted those conversations, as well as the apology, when German said through an interpreter he acknowledged he must “show that I definitely can become a better person and let my actions speak for myself.” The rest, Cashman said, is up to German.
“There are no promises moving forward,’’ the GM said. “He’s taken the necessary steps to begin this journey. Time will tell how it works out.”
It echoed what Boone said previously of German, who went 18-4 with a 4.03 ERA in 2019 and is in competition for the fifth spot in the rotation. He’s scheduled to make his first start since the suspension on Friday, when the Yankees host the Tigers at Steinbrenner Field.
“He has done enough to earn the opportunity to be here and compete and be a part of the team,’’ Boone said last week. “We’re certainly gonna do all we can to support him … [but] a lot is on him. He’s a grown man.”
Cashman added: “He has a chance to resume his career and we hope for the best for him and his family, both personally and professionally.”