Domingo Germán apologizes after serving domestic violence suspension

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NEW YORK — Yankees pitcher Domingo German gave a public apology Wednesday for actions that led to a lengthy suspension under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy, a day after he spoke with New York teammates and admitted he had engaged in dangerous conduct.

Speaking softly and dabbing his eyes at times, German said through a translator he wanted “to sincerely apologize to the Steinbrenner family, my teammates, the front office and those around me who love me. I have made mistakes of which I’m not proud of.”

The 28-year-old has been welcomed by teammates but also faced wariness as he attempts to regain a place in the starting rotation.

“He messed up in life,” first baseman Luke Voit said. “I don’t know the things he did. You always get a second chance at this. We have his back. But he’s skating on thin ice, and he needs to get his life together. And I think he’s doing the right steps to do so. But, again, he’s got to prove to us that he can do that.”

German was placed on administrative leave on Sept. 19, 2019 while MLB investigated an alleged domestic violence incident involving his girlfriend, with whom he has at least one child.

German missed the final nine games of the 2019 regular season and all nine of New York’s postseason games, then on Jan. 2, 2020, was suspended for 63 games. He missed the entire pandemic-shortened 2020 season and the playoffs. He returned to the Yankees last week for the start of spring training.

“I was able to speak to each player on the team yesterday. The only acceptable way to begin to move forward was to address them face to face,” German said during a Zoom news conference from the Yankees minor league complex in Tampa, Florida, speaking in Spanish with a translator at his side. “What I told the team: There are a lot of young players who wear this uniform and I want them to understand the great damage that can be done when mistakes like mine have been made.”

Giancarlo Stanton thought it was a positive exchange.

“It was very smart to address to the team, just to get it out there, get it in the room and move forward from here,” he said. “It was definitely a big mistake he made, and he understands that. At the same time, it’s, `What are you going to do with that mistake?”‘

Voit called German a friend but said “a lot of guys look at him differently now.”

German was 18-4 with a 4.03 ERA in 2019 when he was put on leave.

“When my team needed me the most in 2019 before we started the playoffs, I wasn’t there for them. And for that, I ask your forgiveness,” he said. “It was very difficult for me not to be pitching and helping my team. Having to watch from afar, hurt me a lot. But I also understand I am responsible for putting myself in that position.”

German hopes to earn a spot in a rotation projected to include Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery and newcomers Jameson Taillon and Corey Kluber. Manager Aaron Boone said German is competing with Deivi Garcia, Michael King, Asher Wojciechowski, Jhoulys Chacin and Nick Nelson.

“He has done enough to earn the opportunity to be here and to compete and to be a part of this team,” Boone said. “Now, the proof is in the daily life that he leads. And we’re certainly going to do all we can to support him and help him to become the best version of himself possible.”

German thanked Boone, general manager Brian Cashman and pitching coach Matt Blake for visiting him in Jupiter, Florida.

“They have always sincerely tried to help me. When I was going through my worst moment, they were there,” German said. “We had a great conversation. And for that I will be eternally grateful to them. I need to show them through my actions how committed I am to re-establishing myself as a contributor to this team.”

German underwent mandatory counseling, which he said was beneficial.

He also addressed his social media account. He wrote last week in Spanish: “Everything is over” then deleted his posts and wrote: “I’m ready.” He said he was trying to convey the suspension period was behind him and was trying to dedicate it as a thank you to his partner, with whom he remains together.

“Regarding social media, I understand that I have not used it in an appropriate way. I have caused a lot of confusion,” he said. “And although my reason has been to connect with fans, I must do it in a better way. It is clear that I must improve on that.”

German would not discuss the events that led to his suspension. He said his actions and behavior will show he is safe for his partner to be around.

“We talked about it a lot, many, many, many times. And we’ve promised to each other not to go through something like this ever again,” he said.

German said he had not spoken directly with owner Hal Steinbrenner. He said he understood why Yankees reliever Zack Britton said last week: “I think sometimes you don’t get to control who your teammates are.”

“He gave me really good advice, which I’m thankful for,” German said, recounting a discussion in which the pitcher told him the comments “were not to be taken personal, more on a professional level.”

German wants to be available to younger teammates for advice.

“I can talk to them in specific details on how you can find yourself in the best time of your professional career and how all of a sudden all can change from one night to the other,” he said.

German said he learned “the biggest thing is about how do you react to certain things? How do you make certain decisions in your life when things are tough? I’m a public figure. I play with this team, this well-known organization throughout the world. How do I know how to behave in the best way possible to represent everybody here?”

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.