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Fresh start: Clevinger back with Indians after demotion

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The Indians are ready to give starter Mike Clevinger another chance – and the ball.

Cleveland will recall Clevinger to pitch Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins for the time since he and teammate Zach Plesac broke team rules and Major League Baseball COVID-19 protocols and were demoted for their behavior.

“It’s time to start the healing process with those guys,” said interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr., who is filling in while Terry Francona attends to health issues. “In order to go places, we’re going to need these guys, and also we’re going to eventually need Tito back.”

Alomar did not speak to Clevinger and Plesac, but was told both showed contrition.

“I guess both of them have remorse about what happened,” he 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 known that they’ve made some changes.”

Clevinger last pitched for the Indians on Aug. 5. His start in the series finale against the AL Central-leading Twins represents a fresh start for the free-spirited levinger, who not only angered his teammates by leaving the team’s Chicago hotel with Plesac on Aug. 8 but for not being truthful about his actions.

President of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said Indians players were consulted before the team decided to bring back Clevinger. He said the right-hander had been in touch with teammates.

“There has been enough communication that we felt the team was ready to have those guys back and embrace them,” Antonetti said. “Again, as we’ve shared before, we’re all part of a family and sometimes there are things that happen within a family that you need to kind of make up and move on and I think we’re at that point where we’re all ready to look forward.”

Clevinger has stayed fresh while he’s been away and Antonetti said he wouldn’t have any restrictions for his fourth start.

Plesac will pitch again for the Indians when an opportunity arises, Antonetti said. The 25-year-old’ Pleasac’s last start was on Aug. 8, and after getting the win over the White Sox, he decided to go out to dinner with some friends and Clevinger.

When the Indians were informed Plesac had broken curfew, the team had him driven back to Cleveland by a car service. A few days later, Plesac posted a video on social media in which he blamed the media for distorting the story and portraying he and Clevinger “as bad people.”

It’s been a challenging season for the Indians on numerous fronts.

Along with Francona’s absence, bench coach Brad Mills and hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo opted out during the pandemic for family reasons. The Indians have dealt with some nagging injuries, an inconsistent offense and the Clevinger-Plesac affair threatened to undermine the season.

Alomar credited his fellow coaches and the players for pulling through and said it’s time to break free from the negativity.

“It’s time to get a little bit of sunshine out there,” he said, “because we’ve been surrounded by clouds the whole time, even though we’ve stayed afloat.”

The Indians enter Tuesday’s game at 17-12 and trailing the Twins by 2 1/2 games in the division.

A few days after Clevinger and Plesac broke the team’s code of conduct, they drew the wrath of teammates, who expressed their unhappiness during at a team meeting in Detroit. Afterward, the team optioned Clevinger and Plesac to the club’s alternate training site in Eastlake, Ohio.

Antonetti thinks the separation was good for everyone.

“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,” he 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.”

Cole Hamels done for year after just 1 start for Braves

Cole Hamels triceps injury
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ATLANTA — After making just one start for the Atlanta Braves, Cole Hamels is done for the season.

Hamels reported shortly before the start of a four-game series against the Miami Marlins that he didn’t feel like he could get anything on the ball. The left-hander was scheduled to make his second start Tuesday after struggling throughout the year to overcome shoulder and triceps issues.

The Braves placed Hamels on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Sept. 18,, but that was a mere formality. General manager Alex Anthopoulos already contacted Major League Baseball about replacing Hamels in the team’s postseason player pool.

“Cole knows himself and his body,” Anthopoulos said. “You trust the player at that point when he says he can’t go.”

The Braves began Monday with a three-game lead in the NL East .and primed for their third straight division title.

Even with that success, Atlanta has struggled throughout the shortened 60-game series to put together a consistent rotation beyond Cy Young contender Max Fried and rookie Ian Anderson.

Expected ace Mike Soroka went down with a season-ending injury, former All-Star Mike Foltynewicz was demoted after just one start, and Sean Newcomb also was sent to the alternate training site after getting hammered in his four starts.

The Braves have used 12 starters this season.

Anthopoulos had hoped to land another top starter at the trade deadline but the only deal he was able to make was acquiring journeyman Tommy Milone from the Orioles. He’s on the injured list after getting hammered in three starts for the Braves, giving up 22 hits and 16 runs in just 9 2/3 innings.

“There’s no doubt that our starting pitching has not performed to the level we wanted it to or expected it to,” Anthopoulos said. “I know that each year you never have all parts of your club firing. That’s why depth is so important.”

Hamels, who signed an $18 million, one-year contract last December, reported for spring training with a sore shoulder stemming from an offseason workout.

When camps were shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, Hamels was able to take a more cautious approach to his rehabilitation. But a triceps issue sidelined again before the delayed start of the season in July.

The Braves hoped Hamels would return in time to provide a boost for the playoffs. He also was scheduled to start the final game of the regular season Sunday, putting him in position to join the postseason rotation behind Fried and Anderson.

Now, Hamels is done for the year, his Braves’ career possibly ending after he made that one appearance last week in Baltimore. He went 3 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on three hits, with two strikeouts and one walk in a loss to the Orioles.

Hamels reported no problems immediately after his start, but he didn’t feel right after a bullpen session a couple of days ago.

“You’re not going to try to talk the player into it,” Anthopoulos said. “When he says he isn’t right, that’s all we need to hear.”

Atlanta recalled right-hander Bryse Wilson to replace Hamels on the 28-man roster. The Braves did not immediately name a starter for Tuesday’s game.

With Hamels out, the Braves will apparently go with Fried (7-0, 1.96), Anderson (3-1, 2.36) and Kyle Wright (2-4, 5.74) as their top three postseason starters.

Hamels is a four-time All-Star with a career record of 163-122. He starred on Philadelphia’s World Series-winning team in 2008 and also pitched for Texas and the Chicago Cubs.

Last season, Hamels went 7-7 with a 3.81 ERA in 27 starts for the Cubs.