No one forgot that Mike Clevinger can shove.
Not the Indians. Nor did any other club.
Maybe there were questions about following MLB protocol in the current Covid-19 environment. Perhaps it was worth pondering what would facilitate forgiveness within the clubhouse walls after the actions of Clevinger and Zach Plesac clouded things with a night out in Chicago and the series of unfortunate choices which followed.
But questions about Clevinger’s ability to throw a mid-90’s fastball and induce enough whiffs to make alternative energy sources possible?
So, was the Indians’ willingness, as team president Chris Antonetti announced on Tuesday, to recall Clevinger from punishment and start him in the series finale against the Twins on Wednesday about some sort of trade showcase?
Once again, not exactly.
At least, not in the way people talk about prospect showcases (which are already overblown if not completely extinct now thanks to the explosion of data and information at every level).
Maybe it was click-hungry writers attempting to connect non-existent dots [stares into the mirror in shame]. Or perhaps it was opposing teams, smelling blood in the water, sensing a chance to pounce -- like that guy in your fantasy league who acts like he'd be doing you a favor with his fourth bad trade proposal of the week.
Regardless, the closest thing to a trade “showcase” is the Indians showing that they're comfortable with Clevinger returning. And that means something beyond trying to win games, a likelihood that the 29-year-old pitcher greatly increases every time he takes the mound.
That also means that any team attempting to convince Cleveland to trade the hard-throwing righty -- ones trying to use recent events or a perceived rift inside the clubhouse as leverage against the Indians -- can have that removed from the discussion.
Not that Clevinger’s return likely does much to move the needle on a trade from the Indians’ perspective. I doubt Cleveland would allow themselves to take less than they otherwise would for a talented player with additional years of control beyond 2020 simply because of potentially difficult, yet-to-be-had clubhouse conversations.
But now those perceptions are off the table.
Now, maybe the Indians do trade Clevinger at the end of the month. Maybe what ails the struggling offense can attempt to be rectified by dealing a talented starter for a second consecutive trade deadline.
Or, maybe the Indians hold on to him and smile, knowing that the rotation, with him as part of it, remains as dominant as any in the game.
It's easy to forget, but that choice isn't so bad. More important, it will be dictated by the level of desperation present in any team that attempts to pry him away, and we can't say a move is good or bad without first knowing the full picture.
But the biggest thing Wednesday will showcase, as acting manager Sandy Alomar Jr. told reporters on Tuesday, is the start of the club’s "healing process."
Clevinger’s pitching prowess, after all, was already well known.