588 days. That’s how lengthy it had been since Mike Clevinger pitched in an everyday season MLB recreation. That’s not what the Padres have been hoping for after they traded six gamers to Cleveland for him, however by way of accidents to his biceps, elbow, knee, one other undisclosed setback, and a short look within the 2020 postseason (solely to be lifted within the second inning), Clevinger made his triumphant return to the mound final evening in opposition to his former workforce. It was an emotional second, one which shouldn’t be missed, so I’m not going to.
Clevinger was the Padres’ starter in Game 1 of yesterday’s doubleheader. He was presupposed to make his 2022 debut on Tuesday, however rain pressured the sport again a day. The agonizing wait was consuming away at Clevinger. It was a storybook second ready to occur, however each time that second got here shut, one thing would push it away. In 2020, it was that undisclosed damage that took him out of Game 1 of the NLDS. Shortly after, Clevinger discovered his return to the sector could be placed on maintain for the whole 2021 season because of Tommy John.
When he was lastly given the go-sign, Clevinger managed to make a number of appearances in opposition to minor leaguers and one begin in spring coaching. Even although that look didn’t have any impact on the season, it was sufficient to get the previous Cleveland participant revved up: “It felt really real…It didn’t go as planned, but the only way to go is up from here.” Clevinger was presupposed to be part of the Padres’ Opening Day rotation, however on Opening Day, he was as soon as once more pressured to overlook time, this time resulting from a proper knee sprain.
It had grow to be a foul joke. Anytime Clevinger was presupposed to return and let the world witness his expertise as soon as once more, it was shut down. He was turning into the Yoenis Cespedes of pitchers: at all times on the verge of return, by no means fairly getting there.
It was solely proper for Clevinger to make his return final evening although, on the identical subject he spent the primary 4 and a half years of his profession. The similar subject the place he established himself as among the best younger stars within the recreation. The similar subject he shared with a number of members of the present Guardians’ workforce. That’s a means higher comeback than what would’ve been had Clevinger pitched through the Padres’ opening collection in opposition to Arizona.
Clevinger pitched 4.2 innings, permitting three runs on 4 hits whereas placing out 4. The Padres received 5-4. It didn’t matter what the field rating mentioned although. All that mattered was that Clevinger did one thing we weren’t certain we’d ever see him do once more. Even Clevinger had his doubts. After the sport, he advised reporters “I didn’t think I was going to pitch again…I’m just happy.”
Clevinger has undoubtedly had his ups and downs within the bigs. One of these lows got here simply earlier than being traded to the Padres in 2020, when he and teammate Zach Plesac broke COVID protocol. That resolution by the pair led to a heated argument among the many Guardians’ gamers with a number of gamers even threatening to take a seat out the season if Clevinger and Plesac remained on the Guardians’ roster. Many of Clevinger’s teammates additionally believed he was untruthful about whether or not or not he’d damaged protocol earlier than boarding the workforce airplane on August 9. However, Clevinger’s whereabouts the evening earlier than have by no means been confirmed. As dumb as these choices from Clevinger have been, they shouldn’t take an excessive amount of away from the hurdles he needed to overcome to get again on the mound. After all, these teammates that wished Clevinger gone obtained their want lower than a month later.
Props to you, Clevinger! It’s been a very long time coming since we’ve seen that signature waggle on the mound, and also you gave the whole sports activities world a narrative to root for. Here’s to a robust 2022 marketing campaign.