Rookie right-hander Jhony Brito was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to face the Rays in the opener of an important three-game series. To open a roster spot, New York optioned reliever Ron Marinaccio to Triple A.
With the Yankees trailing by four runs in the fifth inning after Brito gave up four homers, German came out of the bullpen and retired his first five batters. He threw five scoreless innings of two-hit ball in New York's 5-1 loss.
"Right now I feel good," German said through a translator after the game.
The right-hander said he began feeling tightness Friday in Baltimore and it intensified after his bullpen Saturday. He said it was a discomfort he'd never felt before.
"That's why I was so worried about it. Because it was a different kind of sensation," German said. "So overall I think it was the best thing I did, to discuss it with our trainers and follow their advice."
German was unable to play catch Sunday, but he felt better Monday and was cleared by Dr. Christopher Ahmad, the team's head physician, after an examination late in the afternoon.
German went out and played catch, said he felt really good and told the Yankees he could pitch in relief, if needed.
Before the game, Boone said the Yankees didn't think German would need to go on the injured list and he would be slotted back into the rotation in the next few days as long as he checked out OK.
"We just didn't feel like we could risk sending him out there and then if we had to pull the plug in the first inning or something, it would put us in a tough situation," Boone said Monday afternoon.
Tampa Bay leads the American League wild-card standings and is 1 1/2 games behind first-place Baltimore in the AL East.
The last-place Yankees (55-51) began the day 3 1/2 games out of a playoff spot.
German is 5-7 with a 4.77 ERA in 19 starts this season. He had lost his past two outings and has a 5.64 ERA in four starts since pitching the 24th perfect game in major league history -- and first since 2012 -- on June 28 at Oakland.
Brito was 4-4 with a 4.70 ERA in 11 starts and one relief appearance over three previous stints with the Yankees this season. His most recent big league outing was June 27 at Oakland.
In seven starts at Triple-A, he is 2-2 with a 5.45 ERA.