CLEVELAND — The Indians are ready to give starter Mike Clevinger another chance – and the ball.
Cleveland will recall Clevinger to pitch Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins for the time since he and teammate Zach Plesac broke team rules and Major League Baseball COVID-19 protocols and were demoted for their behavior.
“It’s time to start the healing process with those guys,” said interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr., who is filling in while Terry Francona attends to health issues. “In order to go places, we’re going to need these guys, and also we’re going to eventually need Tito back.”
Alomar did not speak to Clevinger and Plesac, but was told both showed contrition.
“I guess both of them have remorse about what happened,” he said. “They want the opportunity to be given the chance to prove that they changed. And we’re human beings. We’re going to make mistakes. I think a little separation from the club helped, and it’s time for the healing process and for those two guys to let their teammates known that they’ve made some changes.”
Clevinger last pitched for the Indians on Aug. 5. His start in the series finale against the AL Central-leading Twins represents a fresh start for the free-spirited levinger, who not only angered his teammates by leaving the team’s Chicago hotel with Plesac on Aug. 8 but for not being truthful about his actions.
President of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said Indians players were consulted before the team decided to bring back Clevinger. He said the right-hander had been in touch with teammates.
“There has been enough communication that we felt the team was ready to have those guys back and embrace them,” Antonetti said. “Again, as we’ve shared before, we’re all part of a family and sometimes there are things that happen within a family that you need to kind of make up and move on and I think we’re at that point where we’re all ready to look forward.”
Clevinger has stayed fresh while he’s been away and Antonetti said he wouldn’t have any restrictions for his fourth start.
Plesac will pitch again for the Indians when an opportunity arises, Antonetti said. The 25-year-old’ Pleasac’s last start was on Aug. 8, and after getting the win over the White Sox, he decided to go out to dinner with some friends and Clevinger.
When the Indians were informed Plesac had broken curfew, the team had him driven back to Cleveland by a car service. A few days later, Plesac posted a video on social media in which he blamed the media for distorting the story and portraying he and Clevinger “as bad people.”
It’s been a challenging season for the Indians on numerous fronts.
Along with Francona’s absence, bench coach Brad Mills and hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo opted out during the pandemic for family reasons. The Indians have dealt with some nagging injuries, an inconsistent offense and the Clevinger-Plesac affair threatened to undermine the season.
Alomar credited his fellow coaches and the players for pulling through and said it’s time to break free from the negativity.
“It’s time to get a little bit of sunshine out there,” he said, “because we’ve been surrounded by clouds the whole time, even though we’ve stayed afloat.”
The Indians enter Tuesday’s game at 17-12 and trailing the Twins by 2 1/2 games in the division.
A few days after Clevinger and Plesac broke the team’s code of conduct, they drew the wrath of teammates, who expressed their unhappiness during at a team meeting in Detroit. Afterward, the team optioned Clevinger and Plesac to the club’s alternate training site in Eastlake, Ohio.
Antonetti thinks the separation was good for everyone.
“I think Mike has had the chance to reflect upon a lot over the course of the last week to 10 days and is really eager to rejoin the team and get back up here and help us win games,” he said. “And I know in talking to our players, we’re all ready to have him back and looking forward to him go out tomorrow night and pitch the way we all know he’s capable of pitching.”
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