CLEVELAND -- For the first time in three weeks, starter Mike Clevinger will be back on the mound for the Tribe.
The Indians announced on Tuesday that Clevinger will be recalled from Lake County, Ohio, prior to the series finale against Minnesota on Wednesday (7:10 p.m. ET, live on MLB.TV). It will be his first start since Aug. 5, against Cincinnati. Clevinger spent the past 11 days at the Tribe's alternate training site after a four-day stint on the restricted list. Zach Plesac remains in Lake County.
"We have a lot of clouds over this organization right now, even though we're doing great things," Indians temporary manager Sandy Alomar Jr. said. "It's time to start the healing process with these guys. In order to go places, we're going to need these guys, and also we're going to eventually need [Terry Francona] back. It's time to get a little bit of sunshine out there, because we've been surrounded by clouds the whole time, even though we've stayed afloat."
After filling the only hole in the five-man rotation now that Triston McKenzie has at least secured one more start, Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti also reached out to Plesac.
"I followed up and talked with Zach to explain the decision and let him know that we don't yet have an opportunity for him at the Major League level," Antonetti said. "But as we all have seen time and time again, that can change very quickly. So it's up to him to continue to pitch the way he's capable of pitching, continue to put in the work and be an option for us whenever we have the opportunity for it."
Clevinger had gotten off to a shaky start to the year, as he was learning to trust his surgically repaired knee again on the rubber, but he showed more positive signs of settling in against the Reds -- despite his five walks -- while showcasing his new cutter for the first time all season. But now, not only will he have to worry about the sharpness of his stuff after missing three weeks of action, he'll also have to focus on repairing his relationships with his teammates, which Antonetti said is off to a decent start.
"I think Mike has had the chance to reflect upon a lot over the course of the last week-to-10 days and is really eager to rejoin the team and get back up here and help us win games," Antonetti said. "And I know in talking to our players, we're all ready to have him back and looking forward to him go out tomorrow night and pitch the way we all know he's capable of pitching."
"It’s been time consuming to say the least," said starter Shane Bieber, who improved to 6-0 after striking out 10 over six innings in Tuesday night's 4-2 win over the Twins. "But I feel like we’ve managed it well as a team in the clubhouse, as individuals, and at this point it’s time to move on. We all have a job to do, and that job is to go out and win -- and Clev and [Plesac] are some of the best at their job, and we need them to win, as well. I think we’re all excited to kind of move on as a team and get that going.”
After the Indians learned that Plesac broke team protocols in Chicago on Aug. 8, the team sent him home via car service immediately the next morning to eliminate any potential risk of COVID-19 exposure. But it wasn't known that Clevinger, who sat through a team meeting on Aug. 9 and flew home with the Tribe that evening, was also out with Plesac past curfew, until the day after that meeting, causing some of his teammates to express how much trust was lost in that process.
Clevinger and Plesac briefly faced their teammates in person at a meeting in Detroit on Aug. 14 -- the day it was decided that the best option would be for the pair of right-handers to be optioned to Lake County. The righties have since worked out at the alternate training site, with Clevinger throwing five simulated innings last Wednesday and a low-intensity bullpen session on Monday.
"I guess both of them have remorse about what happened," Alomar said. "They want the opportunity to be given the chance to prove that they changed. And we're human beings. We're going to make mistakes. I think a little separation from the club helped, and it's time for the healing process and for those two guys to let their teammates know that they've made some changes."