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Rotation shuffle continues for Chicago White Sox as Mike Clevinger goes on the IL with right elbow inflammation ahead of 7-2 loss

Mike Clevinger summed up his 2024 season to date as “electric stuff for three innings.”

“I have A-grade stuff for three innings,” he said Tuesday, “and then I turn into — it’s like I’m two different guys on the mound right now.”

Clevinger will have to wait for more consistent results after the Chicago White Sox placed him on the 15-day injured list with right elbow inflammation. The move is retroactive to Sunday.

“It’s just a little fluid buildup in the bottom of the elbow,” Clevinger said. “So (I) had a cortisone shot and will be shut down for probably 48 hours. I should be throwing in two days.

“It’s been kind of each start building on it. Between this last one, it just didn’t recover well enough that I felt like I should give it a go.”

The Sox signed Clevinger to a one-year deal on April 4. He’s 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA and 15 strikeouts in four starts.

“He had some inflammation and we’ll evaluate it,” manager Pedro Grifol said. “He felt good already after the shot. I’m not expecting it to be something that will shut him down for a long period of time, but we’ll see. You just never know with these things.”

Clevinger went two-plus innings in his first start on May 6 against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla. He went 4 2/3 innings in each of his last three starts.

“There were a lot of times where he was just running out of gas,” Grifol said. “Maybe you could correlate it to this, but a lot of it is he didn’t have a spring training. He was quick to get here because we needed him and it was just building up his work capacity.

“And dealing with this a little bit, I think it was just the perfect cocktail, probably a little bit of both.”

Clevinger called the setback “very frustrating.”

“But knowing I’ll be throwing again in two days and hopefully it’s maybe only two turns in the rotation, just trying to stay optimistic,” he said. “I chalked a lot up to the buildup and then maybe just fatiguing, and I started seeing the last outing (Thursday against the Baltimore Orioles) was kind of a red flag.

“The legs felt ready to go, the shoulder felt fine and all the recovery was fine. Around the same amount of pitches, the sensory muscles in my forearm were kind of giving out a little bit. The fluid buildup, the little time off should cure it.”

Clevinger was slated to start Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays at Guaranteed Rate Field. Instead the Sox called up Jake Woodford from Triple-A Charlotte and he started.

“Any time you can get back up to the big leagues, it’s a huge blessing,” Woodford said. “I’m definitely grateful for that and trying to make the most of it.”

Woodford allowed three runs in 4 1/3 innings in the 7-2 loss in front of 11,852.

The right-hander surrendered five hits, struck out four and walked two in a game that started after a 40-minute rain delay and also featured a 1 hour, 8 minute rain delay before the bottom of the ninth.

All three runs he surrendered came with two outs in the second.

“The second inning got away from me a little bit,” Woodford said. “Comes down to execution. Didn’t execute a couple of sliders and they didn’t miss them. I felt I was able to settle back in after that and get us through a couple of innings.”

The Blue Jays put the game out of reach with three runs in the eighth.

“Any time you give up eight free passes and 13 hits, you’re going to have a tough night,” Grifol said. “It stayed clean and clear until the eighth when we gave up those three runs. Walks today got us.”

The Sox matched a season high with their seventh straight defeat. They’ve lost 11 of 12, and at 15-41 are off to their worst 56-game start in franchise history.

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They’ve had to cycle through a number of pitchers in the rotation along the way as Woodford became the 10th pitcher to start for the Sox this season.

“You don’t prefer it to be that way, but that’s where we’re at,” Grifol said. “Unfortunate that we’ve had a few injuries. We’ve had to protect some of the guys. (Erick) Fedde’s been the most consistent guy. Even with (Garrett) Crochet, there were times I would have liked to have left him in there a little longer.

“But everybody knows where we’re at with him (moving from the bullpen to the rotation). We’re in uncharted waters. He’s done an incredible job of building up his work capacity and just getting stronger and stronger every time he goes out there. But you’ve still got to be careful.”

Crochet (12) and Fedde (11) are the only Sox pitchers with double-digit starts.

“It’s not perfect by any means,” Grifol said, “but it definitely tests the depth of the organization and it gives us an opportunity to continue to evaluate what we have and give opportunities to players and pitchers that maybe in a normal year they wouldn’t get these opportunities. This is a good time for guys to get an opportunity to perform at the major-league level.”