“I think sometimes you don’t get to control who your teammates are,” Britton added, “and that’s the situation.”
German, who surprisingly emerged as the Yankees’ best starting pitcher in 2019, was placed on administrative leave shortly before that season ended after an alleged incident of which few details are publicly known. He eventually received an 81-game suspension, which retroactively included the nine regular season and nine postseason games he missed in 2019.
On Thursday, the 28-year-old Dominican was reportedly back on the field at the Yankees’ spring training complex in Tampa. The 33-year-old Britton, the Yankees’ union representative and a widely respected MLB figure, was asked whether German needed to speak with his teammates or if there was something, in the wake of his suspension, they needed to see from him.
“Yeah, that’s a tough question. I don’t think he owes anything to me,” Britton replied. “I think it’s off the field stuff that he needs to take care of. … My job is to go out there and pitch, and do my job. So that’s kind of what my concern is right there. But he doesn’t owe me anything.
“I think that’s something he’s going to have to deal with on his own and make better choices going forward.”
On Wednesday, Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said of German, “We know he’s paid a significant price from a career standpoint, really having missed a full season-plus now. Hopefully, that is behind us.
“We feel like he’s in a good place coming in. We are going to be there and try to be as supportive as we can, moving forward with him, to not only help him hopefully get the most out of himself on the mound and between the lines, but also in just becoming the best he can be off the field, as well. It’s been a very long year coming back, and we feel like he’s done what he needed to do to get to this point.”
Originally a Miami Marlins prospect who was acquired by the Yankees in 2014, German made seven appearances in the majors in 2017 before establishing himself in 2018 with 21 appearances and 14 starts. He went 2-6 with a 5.57 ERA that season, then showed considerable improvement in 2019 with a record of 18-4 and a 4.03 ERA. That performance was key for the Yankees, who were without then-ace Luis Severino for most of that season.
In the meantime, the Yankees don’t have many sure things at starting pitcher behind ace Gerrit Cole, who is entering his second season in pinstripes. Other candidates for the rotation include Corey Kluber, Jordan Montgomery, Jameson Taillon and Deivi Garcia. That could leave an opening for German if he shows more of his 2019 form, but Boone cautioned on Wednesday that “nothing has been promised.”
“It’s on him to go out and kind of resurrect his career,” Boone said of German, “and compete for a spot on this team.”
German raised more questions Wednesday evening when he reportedly made a cryptic social media post in Spanish, “Everything is over,” before deleting that and posting, “I’m ready,” along with sharing some of Boone’s positive comments earlier in the day.
“When I first heard about it [Wednesday] night and saw it, it was brought to my attention, I was taken aback a little bit and immediately concerned,” the manager said Thursday. “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.”
Britton has previously expressed concern about fellow players’ alleged treatment of women, including in January after Athletic reporter Britt Ghiroli wrote of a 2012 incident in which she said a member of the Baltimore Orioles lured her to his hotel room ostensibly to provide her with some information, only to try to kiss her.
“I was on the 2012 Orioles and reading this makes me sick,” Britton told Ghiroli via Twitter. “I’m sorry this happened to you Britt. I’m sorry you didn’t feel comfortable telling anyone in the organization. It’s bs that any man would consider this acceptable behavior. We need to do better.”
On Thursday, Britton returned to Twitter to respond to a Yankees fan who asked him why he was “worried about” German, given that German was “punished for his mistakes, and you still don’t know the circumstances of what took place.”
“Hah you think I don’t know the circumstances?” Britton retorted. “Get a clue bud.”