The best starting rotation in baseball this season has two of its five on the sidelines until further notice. 

The Indians announced Monday evening that pitcher Mike Clevinger had violated team protocols over the weekend on the team’s trip to Chicago. In a situation where things have gone from bad to worse, this news comes after Sunday’s announcement that Zach Plesac committed a violation of protocols, and received car service from Chicago back to Cleveland on Sunday. 

While Plesac was isolated, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that Clevinger flew back with the team on Sunday night after their 5-4 win over the White Sox in 10 innings. After Plesac dealt a shutout performance on Saturday, Clevinger accompanied him and others to a bar, Passan also reports. Apparently, the Indians didn’t get made aware of this news until after they returned to Cleveland. 

The team released the following statement: 

“Today the organization learned that RHP Mike Clevinger violated team protocols on the club’s recent road trip to Chicago. He has been instructed to quarantine and will undergo subsequent testing while away from the team. RHP Adam Plutko will start in his place on Tuesday night against the Chicago Cubs. The Cleveland Indians will continue to keep the health and safety of our players, coaches and staff members as our top priority.”

What stands out the most about this problematic news is the fact that Clevinger and Plesac were vocal in the preseason about developing and following the team’s COVID-19 code of conduct this season. 

In fact, Plesac said the following on July 3 when the team reported to summer camp: 

“There are common sense situations, where you see things are packed, or going out to the bars and drinking — doing stuff like that isn’t stuff that’s really important to us right now and shouldn’t be important to us right now.”

“We love Zach (Plesac). We support him. But he screwed up. We’re going to handle this in-house,” Tribe ace Shane Bieber said on Sunday night. 

Clevinger spoke about being an accountable teammate back in Summer Camp given the situation as well.

“This isn’t going to be a ‘run to daddy’ kind of thing,” Clevinger said back in July. “We’re going to handle it in-house. This is a player discipline thing. Keep the coaches, front office kind of out of it. It puts a little extra accountability, kind of. Just having that trust in your teammates is a big thing, I think. It’s a big thing on the field. If you feel your teammate doesn’t trust you off the field how are you going to feel like he trusts you when you get between the lines?”

Sandy Alomar Jr., who filled in for manager Terry Francona (gastrointestinal issues) during the last eight games, spoke Friday about the way the organization had handled COVID-19 to date. 

“One of the things the Indians did, is we’ve had a lot of zoom calls during the break,” Alomar said. “After the first spring training, we started communicating with the players right away. We organized communication in groups, divided it and developed a system that kept the guys motivated, and educated about the pandemic. It wasn’t overnight. I’m very proud to be part of an organization that has taken it to pride and the guys follow the protocols. So far, the results have been great.” 

Things have taken quite the shift, and rather quickly. The biggest concern at the moment is the risk factor of Clevinger being with all of his teammates on the plane back to Cleveland Sunday night. 

The organization announced that President Chris Antonetti and Francona will address the media on Tuesday afternoon ahead of the matchup with the Chicago Cubs, who have had four straight days off after their series against the Cardinals was postponed due to their coronavirus surge.

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