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Report: Cleveland player threatened to opt out if Mike Clevinger, Zach Plesac remained on active roster

Sam Cooper
·4 min read
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Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac’s big night out in Chicago has reportedly been the source of significant tension within the Cleveland Indians.

Clevinger and Plesac, both members of Cleveland’s starting pitching rotation, were optioned to the team’s alternate site on Friday after they violated COVID-19 protocols during a road trip in Chicago earlier this month.

Before the decision to move Clevinger and Plesac away from the team for at least the next 10 days was reached, the two were “scolded” by teammates during a “testy” meeting on Friday, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. While some Indians teammates accepted their apologies and were ready to move on, at least one player — veteran reliever Oliver Perez, per ESPN — threatened to opt out of the season if Clevinger and Plesac were allowed to remain on the active roster.

According to ESPN, some Cleveland players were upset with Clevinger and Plesac not only for breaking protocol, but their actions after getting caught doing so.

Indians players' disappointment centered not only on the decision made by Clevinger and Plesac to leave the team hotel in Chicago on Aug. 7 but their actions afterward. Some players, sources said, believed Clevinger was not truthful with them about his involvement before he boarded the team plane Aug. 9. By then, Plesac, who had been caught trying to return to the hotel early on the morning of Aug. 8, had been sent back to Cleveland.

Per Passan’s reporting, other players expressed similar sentiments to Perez, who reportedly “said he would leave the team” if Clevinger and Plesac rejoined the team for their weekend series in Detroit.

Both Clevinger, 29, and Plesac, 25, have tested negative for COVID-19, but the “breach of trust,” as ESPN termed it, is a lingering issue. When the organization learned that Plesac had gone out with friends during the Chicago trip, he was ordered to immediately quarantine away from the team for three days.

Plesac, after MLB security learned he had broken protocol, was sent back to Cleveland via a car service so he would not potentially risk infecting his teammates. Clevinger, however, did not tell the club he was with Plesac and flew with the team.

Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Zach Plesac throws the ball against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Cleveland Indians pitcher Zach Plesac was optioned to the team's alternate site Friday along with Mike Clevinger. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Teammate: Clevinger and Plesac ‘hurt us bad’

When the two were away, several Indians players spoke about what happened with reporters. Pitcher Adam Plutko said Clevinger and Plesac “hurt us bad” and “lied to us.”

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Francisco Lindor, the team’s All-Star shortstop, issued a long statement last week that mentioned teammate Carlos Carrasco, who is considered high risk for COVID-19 after battling leukemia last year.

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Plesac seemingly did not help matters Thursday — the day before the team meeting — when he vented about the situation in an Instagram video. In the video he recorded while driving, Plesac confirmed that he broke curfew and also lamented that the media is “terrible” and does “evil things to create stories.” Indians manager Terry Francona told reporters he was “disappointed” with Plesac’s video.

Cleveland sweeps Detroit without Clevinger, Plesac

Per MLB rules, Clevinger and Plesac will remain at the team’s alternate site for at least 10 days after being optioned.

The two have been significant contributors for the team so far in the 2020 season. Plesac has a sparkling 1.29 ERA in 21 innings over three starts while Clevinger, a mainstay in the Indians’ rotation over the past three seasons, has a 3.24 ERA in 16 ⅔ innings.

Despite their absences, Cleveland improved to 13-9 after sweeping the Tigers over the weekend. The team has Monday off before returning to action on the road against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday.

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