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Clevinger, Middleton 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: NYY@LAA: Middleton escapes jam, keeps game tied

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."

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.

Los Angeles Angels, Mike Clevinger, Keynan Middleton