Domingo German has been waiting 19 months to return to the Yankee Stadium mound. His wait is over.
The 28-year-old right-hander will take the ball for the Yankees on Sunday afternoon against the Blue Jays, his first appearance since Sept. 18, 2019.
Shortly after that, he was put on administrative leave while Major League Baseball investigated an alleged domestic violence incident involving his girlfriend. He missed the end of the Yankees season, including the postseason, and was then suspended for 81 games on Jan. 2, 2020. The ban cost him the entire 2020 season and postseason.
Now, as he makes his return, German expressed his gratitude to the Yankees and the Steinbrenners for the chance.
“The opportunity means a lot to me, just the opportunity itself,” German said through an interpreter. “It’s not easy to be a big leaguer. Plenty of players have gone through something similar, and they’ve never had the opportunity to come back and find themselves on an Opening Day roster. For me, I’m thankful for the opportunity.
“At the same time, I want to show that when you get a second chance you want to do things right. You want to be there for [the Steinbrenners]. You want to be there for my teammates. We make mistakes. It’s also possible to learn from it and move forward.”
The Yankees are hoping German can recapture the form he showed in 2019 before the suspension. He went 18-4 with a 4.03 ERA that year.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone was impressed with what he saw from German in spring training. In four starts this spring, he went 0-1 with a 1.38 ERA and 17 strikeouts.
“I was surprised at how sharp he came in,” Boone said. “I think playing a little bit of winter ball for him was a good thing for him to kind of get back on the mound and get into a little bit of competition. Even though it wasn’t a ton, I feel like that was pretty helpful for him and gave him some momentum coming into spring training. He’s been incredibly sharp. I’ve been surprised at the lack of rust.”
German not only had to work himself back into shape in spring training. He also had to win back the trust of his teammates after the domestic violence episode. He apologized to the team early in spring training, and Boone said German has handled things well since then.
“Obviously there was a lot of buzz around him understandably at the start of camp,” Boone said. “I feel like there were some good conversations had between him and the club and him and different individuals. I feel like every step of the way he’s done a great job to this point, and I’m excited to see him go out there [Sunday].”
German could be a critical piece of the Yankees’ rotation this season, and that starts Sunday against the Blue Jays.
“I felt really good during spring training,” German said, “and now I have the opportunity to turn the page and start the new season and focus on it.”