The fallout from the decision of two Cleveland pitchers, Zach Plesac and Mike Clevinger, to violate COVID-19 protocols continues. The two pitchers left the team hotel to go out in Chicago following a game against the White Sox on Aug. 7, and in Clevinger’s case he even flew back to Cleveland with the team before it came to light that he had been out with Plesac. Obviously, their actions potentially put their teammates at risk for infection, and that’s led to some clubhouse discord.
Plesac and Clevinger were originally placed on the restricted list, and over the weekend the club optioned both to the alternative training site. Now ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that one teammate, veteran left-hander Oliver Perez, threatened to leave the team unless Clevinger and Plesac weren’t first forced to leave. Passan writes:
Despite their production, 39-year-old left-handed reliever Oliver Perez said he would leave the team if Clevinger and Plesac returned to the roster in Detroit, sources familiar with the meeting said. Other players, sources said, felt similarly. Shortstop Francisco Lindor, the four-time All-Star considered the heart of the team, was outspoken as well, sources said.
The most critical issue, sources said, was the breach of trust. While Clevinger and Plesac have tested negative for COVID-19, the potential exposure of the team to the coronavirus — including pitcher Carlos Carrasco, who was treated for leukemia last year — frustrated the team.
Passan’s story has more, including the possible service time implications for Clevinger and Plesac.
As for the frustrations within the organization, Perez is hardly alone. Already, Adam Plutko, who recently started in place of Clevinger, had some strong words for the pair. At this writing, it’s not certain how long Plesac and Clevinger will remain off the active roster, and at some point their losses will be felt on the field. Right now, the Indians are 13-9 and one game behind the first-place Twins in the AL Central. While the rotation has been the team strength thus far, their impressive depth has its limits. Regardless of when Plesac and Clevinger return, they’ll have plenty of fence-mending ahead of them.