588 days. It’s been a while since Mike Clevinger hit the field in a regular-season MLB game. It wasn’t what the Padres hoped for when they traded six players to Cleveland for him, but rather bicep, elbow, knee injuries, another undisclosed defeat and a brief appearance. Short into the 2020 post-season (raised only in the second half), Clevinger returned victorious to the pitch last night against his former team. It was an emotional moment, one that shouldn’t be missed, so I won’t do it.
Clevinger was the starter for Padres in game 1 of yesterday’s doubles. He was supposed to make his 2022 debut on Tuesday, but rain forced the match to be postponed by a day. The agonizing wait ate away at Clevinger. It’s a story moment waiting to happen, but every time that moment approaches, something pushes it away. In 2020, it was that undisclosed injury that made him out of the game 1 of the NLDS. Soon after, Clevinger learned his return to the pitch would be halted for the entire 2021 season thanks to Tommy John.
When he was finally given the right to attend, Clevinger tried to appear in some matches with younger players and a start in spring training. While that appearance didn’t affect the season, it was enough to revive the former Cleveland player: “It feels real… It doesn’t go as planned, but the only way to go up is from here.” Clevinger was supposed to be part of the Padres’ Opening Day rotation, but on Opening Day he was once again forced to miss time, this time due to right knee sprain.
It turned out to be a bad joke. Whenever Clevinger was supposed to return and let the world see his talent again, it was shut down. He’s turning into the Yoenis Cespedes of pitchers: always ready to come back, never getting it done.
However, Clevinger’s return last night was correct, on the very field where he spent the first four and a half years of his career. It is also in this area where he has established himself as one of the best young stars in the game. The same field that he shared with some members of the current Guardians. It’s a way back to better than what was thrown on the field by Clevinger in the Padres’ opening series against Arizona.
Clevinger throws 4.2 turns, allowing him to run three times with four shots while hitting four. The Padres won 5-4. It doesn’t matter what the box’s score says, though. All that matters is that Clevinger did something that we’re not sure we’ll see him do again. Even Clevinger had his doubts. After the game, he told reporters “I don’t think I’ll be on the field again… I’m just happy.”
Clevinger has certainly had his ups and downs in his big career. One of those lows came just before being traded to the Padres in 2020, when he and teammate Zach Plesac broke the COVID protocol. That decision by the pair led to a heated argument among Guardians players with some players even threatened to sit out of the season if Clevinger and Plesac are still on the Guardians list. Many of Clevinger’s teammates also believe he misrepresented the fact that he broke protocol before boarding the team’s plane on August 9. However, Clevinger’s whereabouts the night before was never found. proven now. Just like Clevinger’s decisions, they shouldn’t overlook too many obstacles he must overcome to get back to the mound. After all, the teammates who wanted Clevinger to go had their wish granted less than a month later.
Props for you, Clevinger! It’s been a long time since we’ve seen that signature sway over the mound, and you’ve told the sports world a story to base it on. This is a strong 2022 campaign.