Prior to the series opener in Detroit on Friday, the Indians activated Clevinger and Plesac from the restricted list and optioned both to Lake County. Clevinger had one option remaining entering this year, while Plesac had three.
“In order to be the best team we can be, we made the decisions we did to option them to the alternate site,” Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said. “Now it’s up to them to go down there, put the work in and be an option for us moving forward as we seek to build the best team we can and try to win a World Series.”
Clevinger and Plesac made the drive, separately, to Detroit on Thursday night to meet with the team Friday morning. They had their baseball gear with them in preparation for rejoining the Major League team, if that’s what the club decided.
The entire traveling party gathered at the team hotel to have a discussion with Clevinger and Plesac about the events of the past week. Afterwards, manager Terry Francona, Antonetti and general manager Mike Chernoff came together and determined that optioning both pitchers would be the best decision.
“There are things that have happened over the course of the last week that have been less than ideal, and people have some thoughts and feelings about that,” Antonetti said. “Today was an opportunity for Zach and Mike to share their thoughts and feelings and for our players and staff to do the same. We felt it was most constructive to have an open forum for people to do that, because more than anything, we feel like we need to move forward from here and really focus on winning baseball games and not have anything distract us.”
The Indians sent Plesac back to Cleveland on Sunday morning via car service after he went out in Chicago with friends on Saturday night. He came back to the hotel after the team's curfew of 10 p.m. CT and was told to self-quarantine for three days. It wasn't revealed until Monday afternoon that Clevinger, who flew home with the Tribe on Sunday night, was also out with Plesac. He was also instructed to self-quarantine for three days. Both players received multiple negative COVID-19 test results.
On Thursday, Plesac posted a video on his Instagram page describing his actions while out with friends. However, his explanation produced more backlash, and the video has since been deleted.
“I’m not sure Zach was able to convey what he intended to convey in the video after having a chance to speak with him afterwards,” Antonetti said. “I think if he had a do-over, he may have said things a bit differently.”
“I was disappointed,” Francona said.
Unless a roster spot opens up due to injury, Clevinger and Plesac will remain in Lake County for at least the next 10 days.
“For clarity, this isn’t punitive in any way,” Antonetti said. “This is us reflecting and thinking, ‘OK, given all that’s happened, how do we put together the best team right now to go out and win games?’ And given what’s transpired and how people are feeling, we thought at least for the time being, this is the best thing for us to do to put our team in the best position to succeed.”
Tribe slugger Franmil Reyes attempted to compare Clevinger and Plesac’s situation to his own experience at the beginning of Summer Camp when he had to self-quarantine for three days after attending a Fourth of July party without a mask. When he was asked if the two hurlers would be accepted back into the clubhouse the same way as he was, Reyes wasn’t sure how to answer.
“I really don’t know,” Reyes said. “I always support my teammates. I love them. I really have no comment on that.”
The Indians, who are coming off a pair of losses against the Cubs at Progressive Field, are simply looking to avoid any more distractions.
“The hope is that we can put what’s been going on kind of on the side to play a good game,” Francona said. “Nobody, myself included, is going to stop thinking about those guys, because we care about them and we’re going to continue to care about them. But we also can’t use anything as an excuse to not play a good baseball game.”