Mike Clevinger asks everyone to wait before judging domestic violence allegations
For the second straight year, a team has begun spring training at Camelback Ranch with a starting pitcher under investigation to determine whether he violated Major League Baseball’s sexual assault and domestic violence policy.
A year ago, it was the Dodgers’ Trevor Bauer after a woman accused him of sexual assault.
This time, on the other side of the facility, the Chicago White Sox are facing uncertainty after Mike Clevinger, Bauer’s former teammate in Cleveland, was accused of domestic violence.
Unlike Bauer, however, Clevinger has not been put on paid administrative leave. Instead, Clevinger joined his new team for their first official workout Wednesday, two months after signing with the White Sox.
The allegations against Clevinger initially surfaced on Instagram last month. Olivia Finestead, who said she was the mother of Clevinger’s 10-month-old daughter, accused Clevinger of “physical, verbal, and emotional abuse” and said she filed a police report.
She claimed Clevinger threw an iPad at her when she was pregnant, strangled her, and threw chewing tobacco on their child. Finestead also posted a photo with alleged injuries she said she suffered. She later told the Athletic that Clevinger slapped her in a hotel room when the Padres, Clevinger’s former team, were facing the Dodgers last June.
In a statement shortly after the allegations were made public, Clevinger’s lawyers said the pitcher “emphatically denies” the accusations. On Wednesday, Clevinger, in his first public comments since the allegations, emphasized he is “confident” he will be fully exonerated.
On a day Arte Moreno made his first appearance at spring training, Rob Manfred shared his thoughts on the Angels owner and his decision to take the team off the market.
“I’m just asking everyone to wait before they rush to judgment,” Clevinger said. “Wait until the actual facts are out there. Wait until there’s actual evidence and then make your decision on who you think I am.”
Clevinger, 32, agreed to a one-year, $12 million contract with the White Sox in early December after spending parts of three seasons with the Padres. He said Wednesday that MLB has been investigating him for seven months, indicating he was aware of the situation at least since August when he was pitching for the Padres.
A.J. Preller, the Padres’ president of baseball operations, declined to say whether the team was aware of the investigation while he was with the team.
“We can’t comment on anything involving Mike’s situation,” Preller said. “But we’ve been supportive and cooperative with MLB on any situation involving domestic violence.”
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn told reporters Wednesday that the club wasn’t aware of MLB’s ongoing investigation before signing Clevinger in December. The Washington Post reported last month that a police report was filed against Clevinger last year, but Hahn said the team uncovered only “maturity issues” when vetting Clevinger and “there was no indication of anything close to what is being alleged in this guy’s background.”
Hahn added there was “no way for us to be aware of the incident without someone being in violation” of the confidentiality clause in MLB’s policy. Asked if he was frustrated that Clevinger didn’t disclose he was under investigation, Hahn said, “I understand why” he didn’t.
The MLB-MLBPA joint policy states the MLB commissioner’s office has sole authority to discipline players for violations unless the power is transferred to the team. As a result, Hahn said the “only option” was to allow Clevinger to participate in spring training while waiting for MLB to complete its investigation.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said Wednesday putting a player on administrative leave while conducting an investigation, which the league chose to do with Bauer days after a woman obtained a restraining order against him before eventually suspending him, is “not automatic.” MLB can unilaterally put a player on administrative leave for seven days but needs the players union’s approval for a seven-day extension.
“It’s a product of what we know based on the investigation at that point in time,” Manfred said. “I just can’t get into those details. But it isn’t an automatic thing. It just depends on where we are and what we have.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts on Wednesday denied that his team used an illegal sign-stealing system in 2017 and 2018, an accusation made by sources in a just-released book.
For now, Clevinger is in camp, preparing to pitch for the White Sox. He began his first official day with his new club by apologizing to his teammates for becoming a distraction.
“The elephant was in the room, and I wanted to address it,” Clevinger said. “I’m not going to hide away from it. I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m not running away from this.”
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