December 7, 2022

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Rehab a breeze for Clevinger compared with scary flight

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This story was excerpted from AJ Cassavell’s Padres Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Ahead of his first Major League start since 2020 on Tuesday, Padres right-hander Mike Clevinger recounted a distressing tale about his flight from Arizona to El Paso last week, which required an emergency landing in Tucson.

“We were up at like 30,000 feet elevation,” Clevinger said. “The light comes on to move about the cabin, and then next thing you know we’re nosediving hard, air pressure drops in the cabin. The A/C turns off. The captain goes on yelling, ‘Put your oxygen masks on! Put your oxygen masks on!’ …

“I thought we were just going to the ground.”

Fortunately, Clevinger said, he was sitting next to someone with expertise in planes, who assured him a safe landing was in the offing, even as much of the plane was somewhat panicked. The following day, Clevinger pitched 3 2/3 innings of one-run ball in his final Minor League rehab start as he completed his road back from his second Tommy John surgery.

“I was just super stoked to be there to pitch,” Clevinger said.

The Manny Machado experience
Manny Machado‘s April numbers were incredible. But Machado, as you’re probably aware, is about much more than the numbers. He made two plays in Pittsburgh this past weekend that wholly reinforced that notion.

On Friday night, he broke for second base on a steal attempt and was picked off. Machado veered his path ever so subtly toward the infield grass, taking the throwing lane away from Pirates first baseman Michael Chavis. Sure enough, the ball hit Machado and caromed to left field, as Machado was credited with a steal. Heady play.

On Saturday, Machado made an unbelievable barehand play to rob Jake Marisnick of an infield hit. But it wasn’t so much the barehand that caught my eye. It was Machado’s internal clock. Machado is always so steady at third base that it seems like he moves slowly. But, clearly, Machado knows when things need to speed up. More than any player I’ve seen, Machado knows exactly what it will take on every ground ball to ensure that specific baserunner will be out at first base. (And, more often than not, he does it.)

Hosmer’s fun factor
Manager Bob Melvin, asked to assess Eric Hosmer‘s torrid start earlier this season, noted that Hosmer was “having fun playing baseball again.” Hosmer contends that he’s never not having fun playing baseball. But it’s understandable if the ending to 2021 weighed on Hosmer. The team struggled down the stretch. He struggled down the stretch. The team considered trading him. Doesn’t sound fun. But this year?

“Certainly with Bob and all these teammates here, these guys make it fun,” said Hosmer, who entered Tuesday leading the Majors with a .382 batting average. “They’re a great group of guys. I know these guys have my back. I have their back. So it definitely makes it a lot more fun to play.”

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