A pair of Cleveland starting pitchers violated team rules during the club's weekend road trip to Chicago. Cleveland sent right-hander Zach Plesac home on Sunday for violating coronavirus health and safety protocols, the team announced over the weekend. On Monday night, Cleveland announced that Mike Clevinger had been with Plesac. Clevinger flew with the team on Sunday, per ESPN's Jeff Passan, but will be quarantined and kept away from the team to prevent a potential outbreak.
As a result, Adam Plutko will start in Clevinger's place on Tuesday against the Cubs. Plesac and Clevinger were placed on the restricted list for breaking COVID-19 protocols, the team announced Tuesday. They will continue to receive pay and service time and are eligible to be activated at any time at Cleveland's discretion. Lefty Logan Allen was called up and outfielder Tyler Naquin was activated off the injured list to fill their roster spots.
Plesac issued an apology on Monday.
"I would like to apologize to my teammates, the entire Cleveland organization and all of our fans for my actions Saturday evening," Plesac said in a statement. "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."
Plesac was sent home to Cleveland from Chicago via car service. As a result of breaking protocol, he will be quarantined for 72 hours and tested daily for COVID-19. (Clevinger figures to be quarantined for the same timespan.) Plesac made his scheduled start on Saturday against the White Sox and threw six scoreless innings. It is unclear when he will take the mound again.
"I'll keep the details of our conversation private," president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti told reporters, including MLB.com's Mandy Bell, on Sunday. "But I had multiple conversations with Zach today and we talked through what happened. Obviously reinforced the importance for everybody that we all take the protocols seriously and adhere to them because our decisions and our behaviors not only affect ourselves, but all of our teammates, and I think Zach understands that.
"We take the protocols very seriously," Antonetti added. "We've all banded together and talked about the importance of watching out for one another and making sure that we did our best to minimize risk. And Zach's behavior, unfortunately, wasn't consistent with that. So our players spent some time talking through their thoughts and feelings, and that's feedback we'll get here over the next day or two and factor that into what our next steps might be."
These are the first known instances of players being punished for violating the league's health and safety protocols. According to the CDC, the incubation period for COVID-19 can extend up to 14 days, with an average length of four-to-five days from the time from exposure to development of symptoms.
"We love Zach," righty Shane Bieber told reporters, including Bell. "We support him. But he screwed up. We're gonna handle this in-house. I think what we kind of talked about as a team is we need to focus on one thing at a time, and that was the game. And so I'm proud of the guys for being able to handle one thing at a time and going out there and getting the win. But like I said, we're gonna handle this in-house and we're going to see where it goes from here."
In updated COVID-19 health and safety protocols announced by the league, all 30 MLB teams were required to travel with a compliance officer who ensures that the team staff and players adhere to the league's health and safety protocols. Already in the 2020 MLB season, the Cardinals and Marlins have already suffered COVID-19 outbreaks and 27 games have been postponed.