Clevinger keeps nose to grindstone in downtime

Tribe righty at '100 percent intensity' while rehabbing left knee

April 17th, 2020

CLEVELAND -- Just more than a month ago, was counting down the hours until Opening Day, calculating how much time he had to get his surgically repaired left knee ready before the first week of the regular season. And while he seemed confident that he could’ve been ready if the season would’ve begun on time, he’s now taking advantage of the extra time on his plate.

Clevinger and the Indians would much rather be playing in a safe, healthy environment than worry alongside the rest of the nation about the coronavirus pandemic, but if there’s any silver lining for the Tribe, it’s that Clevinger was able to get himself back to full intensity on the mound after partially tearing his meniscus on the second day of Spring Training.

“Personally, I’m 100 percent intensity now,” Clevinger said. “There are no setbacks there. It’s mostly just monitoring the progression in the weight room.”

Clevinger and the training staff, along with pitching coach Carl Willis and others, participate in a Zoom call a couple times a week to continue to check in on the hurler’s progression. Toward the end of the team’s time in Arizona in March, Clevinger had already advanced to throwing bullpen sessions and was hoping to progress to throwing live batting practice as quickly as possible. But now, that next step has temporarily been put on hold.

“Our medical staff, they do a tremendous job,” Willis said. “And I think our organization as a whole, one of our strengths -- maybe our greatest strength -- is our ability to communicate and collaborate and work with others. So... our training department, they’ve been able to communicate with Clev, with [Carlos Carrasco]. They’ve been able to see to their care, their treatment plans, and these guys are progressing. They’re doing it safely, but they’re progressing in a fashion that hopefully, when we come back this summer, they’re gonna be able to jump right in and be ready to go.”

Immediately after players were dismissed from Arizona, Clevinger and Zach Plesac returned to Florida, where they trained together. They began their own workouts and throwing programs with each other before Plesac returned to Cleveland to be with his family. Now, Clevinger has found other ways to keep his training going while abiding by the guidance of the Tribe’s training staff.

“They’re constantly knowing what my schedule is like,” Clevinger said, “whether I’m doing beach workouts -- they [took] me off the beach recently -- so I finally found this facility that’s clean, sanitized, no one’s going in there, so I have a catcher to throw to, and we laid a good little workout plan for weight-room stuff actually earlier today. So that’ll be good moving forward.”

The weight room is the only place Clevinger still has some restrictions. The more he continues to progress in his workouts, the closer he’ll get to being fully cleared for baseball activities. He’s hoping the next step will be setting up a schedule for live batting practice in the next few weeks.

“I think as far as I know right now, we’re lucky that no one is sick,” Clevinger said. “Everyone’s remained healthy. The hardest thing is just having no real light at the end of the tunnel. It’s still pretty broad right now. I’d like to have more of a set plan, but obviously you can’t with a pandemic like this.”

With the positive report from Indians manager Terry Francona on Thursday about the status of Tyler Naquin (right ACL tear), Oscar Mercado (left wrist sprain) and Carrasco (right elbow inflammation), the Indians could be close to full strength once the season does return. Emmanuel Clase (upper back strain) remains as the only question mark.

“When we do get back, we’re in hopes that they’ll be ready,” Willis said. “But certainly, we would’ve much rather been a week or so into the season.”