CLEVELAND — More than three weeks after breaking team rules and Major League Baseball protocol by leaving his hotel and going out with friends in Chicago, pitcher Zach Plesac will return to the mound for the Cleveland Indians to replace his former teammate Mike Clevinger—who was traded Monday—in the rotation.
Plesac, 25, will rejoin the team and take the mound Tuesday against the Kansas City Royals, for the first time since Aug. 8 when he got his first win of the season against the White Sox, according to the team.
Following his win in Chicago, Plesac, who was in his hometown, went out with friends, and was joined by Clevinger. Once the team learned of Plesac’s night out, they immediately sent him back to Cleveland in a car service to quarantine, but Clevinger, who the Indians were unaware also went out, flew back with his teammates, coaches and staff.
Both Plesac and Clevinger were placed on the restricted list and made to quarantine and undergo COVID-19 testing.
Just after the incident, Plesac issued a statement apologizing for breaking COVID-19 protocol.
“I would like to apologize to my teammates, the entire Cleveland organization and all of our fans for my actions Saturday evening. I realize I made a poor choice to leave the hotel, which broke protocols and could have endangered other people. I understand that in these times of uncertainty, I need to be more vigilant and responsible and I am determined to earn my teammates’ forgiveness and get back to work.”
A few days later, Plesac took to Instagram to post a video, which he deleted the next evening, voicing his displeasure on the media coverage surrounding the violations he and Clevinger had been reported for.
Plesac said he and Clevinger were within CDC guidelines when they left the team hotel and were never with “more than eight people the entire night,” although the league's protocols are not directly correlated with CDC guidelines. He also said he believed he and Clevinger were being cast as “bad teammates, bad people and dragged across the mud.”
“It breaks my heart for people to think I’m a bad teammate or a bad person. But I wanted to share with you guys that moving forward, there’s a selflessness lesson taught here and at the end of the day, I want everybody to be healthy. I want to be a good teammate. I want to win baseball games, man. That’s all I want to do.”
After posting the video, which manager Terry Francona said “disappointed” him, Plesac and Clevinger were optioned to the team’s minor league affiliate in Lake County.
Clevinger was recalled from the Alternate Training Site on Aug. 26 and made his first start since Aug. 5. On Monday, the MLB trade deadline, the Indians traded Clevinger to the San Diego Padres in a nine-player deal.
Indians president Chris Antonetti said trading Clevinger was not about the incident in Chicago and that they had moved past it, which Plesac can take solace in as he makes his way back to the team and attempts to restore faith in himself from his teammates, coaches, staff and fans.