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Hey, Hoynsie: Do you have any “feel’ for how Zach Plesac and Mike Clevinger will be received by their teammates if and when they return from Classic Park, the team’s alternate training site? It seems like this could be a big problem as far as clubhouse harmony is concerned. — Hank Greer, Seabrook, S.C.
Hey, Hank: I think we’ll see at least one of them return to the rotation next week. How they’re accepted by the rest of the team is going to be a fascinating part of this season. There comes a point when talent, especially if it’s needed, is hard to ignore.
Hey, Hoynsie: Athletes are good at compartmentalizing, but do you think Zach Plesac and Mike Clevinger will be able to pick up where they left off if they rejoin the Indians rotation? — Bill Paris, Franklin, Ten..
Hey, Bill: If they were coming back from a minor injury, I have no doubt they’d be able to eventually find their groove. This is different. They have to win back the clubhouse and coaching staff. Then they have to take the mound and produce. I’m not smart enough to give you an answer on whether they’ll be able to do that, but I do remember something Gabe Paul, former Indians president, used to say, “Baseball is a team game played by nine individuals.”
Hey Hoynsie: What is the early feedback on the new three-batter rule for pitchers? With the Indians starters going deep into games it’s hard to gauge how see if there’s been a change in relief strategy. — Cindy, Strongsville.
Hey, Cindy: Acting manager Sandy Alomar was asked that question before Friday night’s game. He said the rule has made it tough use right and left-handed specialist because they have to face three batters or pitch to the end of an inning when they enter a game.
Lefty Oliver Perez has done well with the new rule, getting lefties and righties out. But right-hander Adam Cimber made his first appearance since Aug. 12 on Friday night against the Tigers because the matchup situations sometimes weren’t in his favor.
Hey, Hoynsie: Shortstop Francisco Lindor doesn’t seem to be his fun-loving self. Is the mask hiding his usual smile or is he truly unhappy? — Brent, Hunting Valley.
Hey, Brent: Lindor is still having fun, but I think he’s frustrated because he hasn’t hit well and the season is approaching the halfway point.
Hey, Hoynsie: MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has implemented changes to speed up the game. So far have they worked? — Don Shaughnessy, Ashtabula.
Hey, Don: The average time for a nine-inning MLB game in 2019 was a record 3:05:11. The average time had dropped to 3:00:44 in 2018.
This year the Indians are averaging 3:01 for a nine-inning game. Last year it was 3:02. Thursday night the Indians beat the Pirates, 2-0, but the game took 3:24. That’s a long time for a game featuring two runs.
Two rules implemented because of the coronavirus have definitely shortened games — the automatic runner rule and the seven-inning doubleheader rule. The first rule puts a runner on second base in every half inning of an extra-inning game. The second rule says each game of a doubleheader will be seven instead of nine innings.
Hey, Hoynsie: The Indians are doing what a good team is supposed to do — beat the bad teams and play even with the good ones. Do you believe they will continue to do this? — Larry Wilson. Massillon.
Hey, Larry: The Indians are 11-3 against teams with losing records (Detroit, Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati). They are 5-7 against teams with winning records (Twins, Cubs and White Sox).
As for whether they can continue that trend, only time will tell.
Hey, Hoynsie: With Triston McKenzie making his big-league debut Saturday, tell us more regarding his prior arm injuries, what are his physical features, best pitches and velocity? — Bob, Louisville.
Hey, Bob: McKenzie is 6-5 and 165 pounds. He missed all of the 2019 season with a strained right rotator cuff and right pectoral muscle. He missed the first half of the 2018 season with a strained right forearm and has never pitched above Class AA Akron.
Pitching coaches Carl Willis and Ruben Niebla say McKenzie’s best two pitches are a fastball and curveball. He throws his fastball between 92 mph and 96 mph. His curveball registers between 77 mph and 80 mph. He also throws a slider (84 mph-87 mph) and a changeup (81 mph-84 mph). The scouting report says he has good life on his fastball in the strike zone.
Hey, Hoynsie: Given all the health problems that Terry Francona has had to deal with over the last several years, do you think this could be his last year as manager of the Indians? — Janice DiCuccio, Columbus.
Hey, Janice: I hope not because he’s good at what he does. Francona, signed through 2022, loves to manage and loves working with team executives Chris Antonetti and Mike Chernoff.
He certainly has had one of the best runs of any manager in team history. As acting manager Sandy Alomar said Friday, “We need Tito back. This is his team.”
New Indians face masks for sale: Here’s where you can buy Cleveland Indians-themed face coverings for coronavirus protection, including a single mask ($14.99) and a 3-pack ($24.99). All MLB proceeds donated to charity.
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