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Middleton, Clevinger share tight bond

Pitchers met at Angels' training complex, faced each other for first time Tuesday
MLB.com @mi_guardado

CLEVELAND -- Keynan Middleton first met Mike Clevinger four years ago at the Angels' training complex in Arizona.

At the time, Middleton was just a few months removed from being drafted by the Angels, and Clevinger was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. The two pitchers quickly formed a tight bond, though their paths diverged when the Angels dealt Clevinger to the Indians in exchange for reliever Vinnie Pestano in August 2014.

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CLEVELAND -- Keynan Middleton first met Mike Clevinger four years ago at the Angels' training complex in Arizona.

At the time, Middleton was just a few months removed from being drafted by the Angels, and Clevinger was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. The two pitchers quickly formed a tight bond, though their paths diverged when the Angels dealt Clevinger to the Indians in exchange for reliever Vinnie Pestano in August 2014.

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On Tuesday night, Middleton and Clevinger found themselves on the same field again, but on opposing sides. The two friends briefly pitched against each other in the Angels' 11-7 loss to the Indians, with Clevinger starting for Cleveland and Middleton entering in relief in the third inning.

"It was crazy," Middleton said Wednesday. "He called me as soon as he got here yesterday and went outside the clubhouse. I was just like wishing him good luck and asked him about his family and stuff. It's good to see somebody that I actually know. All these guys know people that play in the big leagues, but he's like my only true friend that plays in the big leagues. It was cool to watch him throw yesterday."

Video: CLE@SF: Clevinger strikes out seven vs. the Giants

Middleton and Clevinger frequently text each other during the season, and they also crossed paths during Spring Training this year. After the Angels played the Indians in Goodyear, Ariz., Middleton hitched a ride back to Tempe with Clevinger, and the two hung out together with their daughters.

Middleton said he isn't surprised to see Clevinger succeed in Cleveland, where he's gone 5-3 with a 3.20 ERA in 14 appearances this season. (Pestano, meanwhile, hardly pitched for the Angels and is now with the Bridgeport Bluefish of the independent Atlantic League.)

"I could tell he was a big leaguer from the second I saw him," Middleton said of Clevinger. "We had to get rid of him in a trade because we needed other things. I was sad to see him go when he went, but it was a good path for him."

Pounders recalled
The Angels called up right-hander Brooks Pounders from Triple-A Salt Lake on Wednesday and optioned left-hander Jose Alvarez, adding a fresh arm to their taxed bullpen. Following a short start by Jesse Chavez on Tuesday, six relievers combined to pitch 7 2/3 innings for the Angels in their 11-inning loss.

Pounders, 26, has logged a 6.52 ERA in 9 2/3 innings with the Angels this season entering Wednesday.

Worth noting
• Outfielder Cameron Maybin, who landed on the disabled list on July 19 with a sprained right knee, has been doing plyometrics to recover his knee strength, but he has yet to resume baseball activities. Maybin is expected to miss two to four weeks while rehabbing from the injury.

"The range of motion is increasing every day, so he's moving in the right direction," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

Andrew Bailey's rehab assignment shifted to Salt Lake earlier this month, but the 33-year-old right-hander has struggled in his three outings there, allowing four runs over three innings.

"I think his performance is lacking a bit because he's not quite where he wants to be as far as his strength," Scioscia said.

Bailey has been sidelined since April 12 with right shoulder inflammation.

• The Angels transferred infielder Sherman Johnson from Double-A Mobile to Salt Lake on Wednesday. Johnson, 27, was hitting .296 with two home runs and 18 RBIs in 32 games with Mobile this year.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.

Los Angeles Angels, Mike Clevinger, Keynan Middleton