"The actions we took were not mandated by anyone. They were choices we made,” Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said Tuesday on a Zoom video conference with reporters. “Their behavior violated our code of conduct.”
Antonetti declined to provide details of how the club came to learn of the violations or any additional discipline in the way of fines and or suspensions they may hand down but the team established internal rules that prohibited players from socializing outside of the team.
“This one hurts,” manager Terry Francona, who returned to the team Tuesday after missing the previous eight games to deal with a medical issue, said.
“We’ll deal with it like we always do. We care about each other. It doesn’t mean you don’t get disappointed with each other or even mad at each other sometimes. But what I care about is making it better.”
Francona seemed to indicate that players may have a say in what other steps the team might take against Clevinger and Plesac.
“Not being vindictive, just trying to figure out how do we make this better so it doesn’t happen again,” Francona said. “The players will have a lot to say about this. Taking ownership of what we’re doing is really important.”
Plesac apologized in a statement Monday and Tuesday evening Clevinger issued his own statement through the team.
“There is an implicit trust that each of my teammates share as we navigate a season during this pandemic, and I broke that trust,” Clevinger said. “In Chicago, I made the mistake of violating the protocols but the biggest mistake of all was not immediately coming clean to my teammates. I owe them better. I now realize that by even exposing myself to just one person more than necessary, I am putting myself, my teammates, the guys I compete against, the umpires, the staff, the Indians organization as well as the Game that I love at risk. There is no excuse for my actions, and I can only take responsibility and learn from my mistakes.
“Moving forward, I promise my actions will reflect a full understanding of the protocols set in place while I continue my passion for competing for the incredible Indians’ fans and the City that I adore.”
Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor offered a matter of fact perspective on what the prevailing attitude needs to be among the team, and society when it comes to personal responsibility during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have to sit and look ourselves in the mirror, and it’s not about the person we see in the mirror,” Lindor said. “It’s who’s behind you, the other people. It’s not about that one person. It’s about everybody around you: the family members, the coaching staff, Carrasco, all the players on teams that are high-risk. We’re in a time right now with COVID, with racism, with everything – this is a time to be selfless. This is when we have to sit back and understand this is not about one person specifically. It’s about everybody. It’s about your neighbor, and your neighbor’s neighbors. It’s not just you specifically.”
Plesac and Clevinger were not joined by anyone else from the team Saturday night and according to Antonetti neither player came in close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual.
Both players will be tested Wednesday for COVID-19 and they must test negative in order to be permitted to return to the team.
Clevinger was scheduled to start against the Cubs Tuesday night but was replaced by Adam Plutko.
“It’s not ideal, but we felt it was the right thing to do,” Antonetti said. “We said from the beginning, even if you go back to March 13, we will continue to prioritize the health and wellness of our players and staff. Based upon the behaviors of Zach and Clev, we felt that they had an elevated level of risk, so we wanted to make sure we did what we could do to protect the rest of our group.”
The Indians were scheduled to be tested as part of the MLB protocols on Tuesday according to Antonetti.
Plesac was driven home from Chicago on Sunday after the team learned of his violation while Clevinger flew back on the chartered plane because they didn’t learn he was with Plesac until Monday. On the surface, it would appear Clevinger endangered the entire traveling party but Antonetti said Tuesday that is not the case.
“The reality is if either player was exposed on Saturday night, there’s at least a 48-hour incubation period before they could become infectious,” Antonetti said.
In corresponding moves, outfielder Tyler Naquin was reinstated from the 10-day injured list and left-handed pitcher Logan Allen was recalled from the alternate training site at Lake County.