GOODYEAR, Ariz. — On Friday, the Cleveland Indians shared some seemingly alarming news when they revealed that Mike Clevinger underwent knee surgery after suffering a partial tear of his left medial meniscus,
But while Terry Francona would have obviously preferred for his top starter to have suffered a setback, the Indians manager doesn't see the injury as much more than just that.
"It's not doomsday," Francona told reporters in Goodyear, Arizona, at Spring Training on Friday. "One, we know he's a quick healer. Two, he's going to be able to keep his arm conditioned the entire time. Yeah, I'd prefer it didn't happen, obviously. But he's gonna be OK."
Clevinger is expected to miss six to eight weeks after getting the operation Friday in Avondale, which means he should be back in the rotation no later than mid-April barring any setbacks. As Francona noted, Clevinger will also be able to keep his arm conditioned, so it does appear the news is not as bad as initially feared.
Any regular-season action Clevinger does miss, however, could prove crucial. After Cleveland traded Corey Kluber to the Texas Rangers in December, the 28-year-old Clevinger entered 2020 as the front-runner to become the first non-Kluber pitcher to start an Indians Opening day since 2014.
Despite suffering a back injury that cost him more than three months of the 2019 season, the right-handed Clevinger is coming off a career year in which he amassed a 13-4 record, 2.71 ERA and 169 strikeouts in 21 starts. Should he not be recovered in time to start the regular season, Shane Bieber or Carlos Carrasco would seem to have the best shots to toe the rubber when the Indians open the 2020 season against the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field on March 26.