CHICAGO - Zach Plesac understood the importance of players behaving in order for baseball to have its season amid a global pandemic.
He broke the rules anyway.
The Indians sent Plesac back to Cleveland on Sunday in a rental car after the young right-hander violated team rules and Major League Baseball’s coronavirus protocols, a club official told the Associated Press.
The official said the 25-year-old Plesac went out with friends in Chicago on Saturday night following his win against the White Sox. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said the team got Plesac a car so he wouldn’t be on a plane with teammates and staff in the event he contracted the virus.
It is not known if Plesac has been tested since breaking the team’s code of conduct. He will be isolated from the team and can not take part in team activities until he twice tests negative for COVID-19.
The Athletic first reported Plesac was sent home.
Indians team president Chris Antonetti is expected to address Plesac’s situation following the team’s series finale in Chicago on Sunday night.
Major League Baseball has been emphasizing the need for players to be more careful and follow its protocols in the wake of coronavirus outbreaks with the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals. The episode with Plesac, the nephew of former big league reliever Dan Plesac, is the most high-profile evidence of baseball’s increasing concern about its guidelines.
Last month, Plesac, who has become a reliable starter for the Indians, spoke of the importance of players abiding to the “code of conduct” that every team was required to submit to MLB in hopes of completing the 60-game regular season.
“Definitely any time you can maintain social distancing is going to be what we have to focus on,” Plesac said July 3. “There are common sense situations, where you see things are packed, or going out to the bars and drinking — doing stuff like that isn’t stuff that’s really important to us right now and shouldn’t be important to us right now.
“We’re given this privilege to be able to come back and play and given this short window to even play. It’s a good time now just to really buckle down and focus on what’s important and work toward something greater at the end of the season and for these couple months, lock in and focus on what we have set for us at the end of the year.”
The Indians have had few issues since baseball’s restart and their decision to send Plesac home exemplifies how strict they’ve adhered to the MLB guidelines. A few weeks back, slugging outfielder Franmil Reyes was kept away from the team after the Indians spotted him on social media at a July 4 weekend party not wearing a mask.
Plesac is from Crown Point, Indiana, which is about 45 miles from Chicago. In his start Saturday, he didn’t allow a run and limited the White Sox to five hits in six innings to improve to 1-1.