The Cleveland Indians' decision to option pitchers Zach Plesac and Mike Clevinger - who broke health and safety protocols during last weekend's road trip to Chicago - to their alternate training site on Friday wasn't made lightly.
Clevinger and Plesac drove from Cleveland to Detroit Thursday, where they met with their teammates ahead of the team's weekend series against the Tigers. It was only after that meeting, and another one with president Chris Antonetti, general manager Mike Chernoff, and manager Terry Francona, that the team chose to send the pitchers down.
"We didn't know exactly what decision we would make coming into today, so we could have ended up in a different place where maybe one or both of them were with us, or one was with us and one was at the alternate site, but that’s not what happened," Antonetti said, according to The Athletic's Zack Meisel.
"We spent time thinking about what gives our team the best chance to win tonight," he added, according to Joe Noga of Cleveland.com. "We made the determination that it made the most sense to, in order to be the best team we can be, we made the decisions we did to option them to the alternate site."
Several Indians players had harsh reactions this week while speaking to the media about their teammates' actions in Chicago. Pitcher Adam Plutko said his rotation-mates "hurt us bad," while shortstop Francisco Lindor asked the team to "look ourselves in the mirror" when making decisions during this season.
Cleveland's players likely repeated some of those sentiments in the team meeting, where Francona said, "everybody got a chance to voice their opinions," according to Keith Britton of 92.3 The Fan. "... We had some things we needed to talk about."
Clevinger and Plesac will likely return to the majors at some point this year and will remain on their regular throwing schedules while at the alternate site. But with the team now slumping - Cleveland dropped two straight games this week as the protocol scandal was unfolding - Antonetti acknowledged that the move might help the team get past this wild week in the short term.
"This isn't punitive in any way," Antonetti explained. "There was a feeling like we want to be able to focus on the team, all pull in the same direction and go out and just try to focus on winning games.
"Then at the appropriate time, we can bring them back to our major league team."
Clevinger and Plesac both issued separate apology statements through the club earlier this week. On Thursday, Plesac posted a video to his Instagram in which he explained what happened in Chicago, while also blasting the media's coverage of the story. While the video may not have directly played a role in his demotion, the Indians weren't enamored by its content.
“I think if he had a do-over, he may have said things a bit differently," Antonetti said, per Meisel.
"I was disappointed," Francona added.