Clevinger gets nerves out of way in MLB debut

Clevinger gets nerves out of way in MLB debut

CINCINNATI -- Mike Clevinger spent some time lying on a leather couch in the middle of the visitors' clubhouse at Great American Ball Park on Thursday afternoon. The Indians' rookie pitcher scrolled through his phone and chatted with Mike Napoli.

One day after his Major League debut, Clevinger was just happy to relax.

"It's definitely good to put that behind me," Clevinger said on Thursday. "Yesterday felt more like an event than like another game back to the grind. It'll be good just to get back into the normal routine."

Clevinger, the Indians' No. 7 prospect, had an eventful day on Wednesday to say the least.

Not only did the right-hander throw up prior to his outing in Cincinnati, but he started to head to the wrong bullpen to warm up before the game. Those jitters did not show on the mound, though. Clevinger looked composed and held the Reds to two hits through the first five innings before running into trouble in the sixth.

"He had a fun day yesterday," Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said with a smirk. "I think he threw up before the game. So, that was good. Get all those nerves out. I talked to him today. He said, 'It'll be nice to be able to pitch the next time, where I can actually feel my legs.' It was a good day for him."

Clevinger's behind-the-back play

Clevinger was given No. 52, which happens to be the number that former Indians reliever Vinnie Pestano wore during his time in Cleveland. It was Pestano who was traded to the Angels on Aug. 7, 2014, in order for the Indians to acquire Clevinger, who revamped his delivery in the Minors and developed into a top prospect for the Tribe.

The righty's jersey number also holds special meaning for his family, considering his newborn daughter, Penelope, was born on May 2. Clevinger's girlfriend and daughter were in attendance on Wednesday, along with his parents and a host of other relatives.

After the game, Clevinger and his family went back to the team's hotel to celebrate.

"We ordered a bunch of food at the hotel and had a few beers," Clevinger said. "We kind of enjoyed the moment, soaked it in together."

Callaway said Clevinger impressed him with the variance in velocity on his pitches. The right-hander averaged 94.1 mph with his fastball, while also featuring a changeup (88.1 mph), slider (81.1 mph) and curveball (75.1 mph). Over 5 1/3 innings, Clevinger allowed four runs on five hits with five strikeouts and one walk.

"I thought he was really good. I thought he controlled his intensity really well," Callaway said. "I really liked his stuff. I liked four different speeds he's showing. He can kind of run the gamut from low-70s to mid-90s. That makes it tough on any hitter when they have to respect all those different speeds."

Clevinger said he has been overwhelmed by the support of Tribe fans via social media.

"Oh man, it still gives me the chills," Clevinger said. "The fans and all the love they've shown since they found out, it's unreal. I don't think I got a negative comment from anybody, and I don't think I did exactly the best job. But, they still had my back."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.