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TAMPA, Fla. — After his second short and shaky start in nearly a year and half, Domingo German was optioned to the alternate site Saturday night. The right-hander took his first career loss to the Rays, 4-0, before the Yankees made the roster move, which is most likely to bring in a fresh arm for their already taxed bullpen.

German went just four innings Saturday, allowing four runs on eight hits, including two home runs in the Yankees’ 4-0 loss to the Rays. That came on the heels of Corey Kluber being unable to get out of the third inning on Friday.

“Obviously, we’ve had to lean on the bullpen a little bit here these last couple days, especially some of our length guys,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.

The Yankees got five scoreless from their bullpen on Saturday, with two from Jonathan Loaisiga, who had given them three innings of one-run ball on Friday. Luis Cessa pitched an inning in each game. With a day off Thursday and then another just four days later, the Yankees won’t need a fifth starter until the end of the month.

Michael King, who pitched six scoreless in relief when German couldn’t get past the third the last time out, was optioned to the alternate site on April 4. He’s on the taxi squad and in Tampa to be activated if there is an injury. Otherwise he would not be eligible until April 19.

Another possibility would be Deivi Garcia, who was competing with German for the fifth starting spot this spring. After having him work out of the bullpen in Triple-A at the end of the 2018 season, however, the Yankees have seemed reluctant to use him as a reliever.

German missed the end of the 2019 season and playoffs and all of the 2020 season serving an 81-game suspension under the domestic violence policy. He had looked sharp in spring training, but struggled with an old familiar problem in his two regular-season starts.

In 2019, German’s breakout season, he gave up 30 home runs in 27 appearances. In fact, he has given up at least one homer in 12 straight starts, dating back to July 18, 2019.

Boone said that is something they can live with, considering he doesn’t get much traffic on the bases beforehand.

“He fills up the strike zone which we love. He’s gonna go after guys and really commands his pitches and lives in the strike zone,” Boone said. “So it’s usually not a lot of free passes with him. You can certainly live with some solo shots here and there. Overall, I don’t feel like he’s far off from really dialing in a good one.”

That may have to wait a while now. After being optioned, German could be recalled in the case of injury or after 15 days.