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Clevinger aims to beat timetable again

Starter thinks he can return from knee injury in less than 6-8 weeks
@MandyBell02
February 15, 2020

GOODYEAR, Ariz. – After Indians starter Mike Clevinger strained his upper back in his second start of the 2019 season, he was told it was going to be at least six to eight weeks before he could even pick up a ball again. Two months later, he was back on

GOODYEAR, Ariz. – After Indians starter Mike Clevinger strained his upper back in his second start of the 2019 season, he was told it was going to be at least six to eight weeks before he could even pick up a ball again. Two months later, he was back on the mound. Now, he’s hoping to beat a timetable once again.

After undergoing successful surgery to repair a partial meniscus tear in his left knee, Clevinger was informed that he’d likely be able to return to Major League game activity in six to eight weeks.

“I’ve heard of guys [who] come back in a month’s time,” Clevinger said. “I don’t think it’s out of the question. They think I can be throwing off the mound in eight weeks, [if not earlier]. I beat the timetable the last time, so I’m just hoping to do the same thing now.”

Clevinger slowly shuffled into the Tribe’s Spring Training facility on Saturday morning with crutches under both of his arms. He said the pain should be gone by Sunday, and he’s hoping to start doing throwing exercises with weighted balls -- without doing anything to tamper with the work that was done on his knee -- to make sure he doesn’t lose any arm strength in this process.

“He popped in to say hello, and he’ll go in the training room and do a few things,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Each day they’ll allow him like a little bit more, stay a little longer, do a little bit more. They’ll start putting their heads together on how to keep his arm in condition. Just all types of things like that. But for the first couple of days, you want to be up and moving and not just sit around.”

Clevinger said he was stretching on Wednesday after he had thrown when he realized something was off.

“I just felt like a couple pops happen, and I was like, ‘Oh man, that felt weird,’” Clevinger said. “Like, I walked in fine and I did some treatment here and then went home, and when I woke up, I just couldn’t put weight on it. … They said the meniscus is always like a freak. There’s not really a causation. It’s just a freak thing.”

The 29-year-old righty is all too familiar with rehabbing through injuries, beginning with missing much of the 2012 and ’13 seasons in the Angels’ Minor League system after having Tommy John surgery.

“Usually, bad things happen in threes,” Clevinger said. “This is the third one, so I should be done now.”

No matter how used to the process he has gotten in the past year, Clevinger mentioned that it has been difficult to push down the frustration he has been feeling since he felt the pops in his knee.

“I felt like it was a whole offseason of sacrifice,” Clevinger said. “I mean, not that I didn’t want to train, but sacrificing a whole offseason for something like this in such a random way for it to happen and do this to me.”

Because he hasn’t been afraid to express his feelings about the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal on Twitter and to the media, Clevinger has received a lot of negative remarks from Houston fans on social media about his injury, which he said he’s going to use as motivation.

“All the celebration comments that I’ve been getting about my injury. A lot of those people,” Clevinger said. “All of that is really, really good fuel, and I’ll be back in plenty of time to face [the Astros], too, so it’ll be fun.”

Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.