Cleveland pitcher Zach Plesac confirms he ignored COVID-19 protocols, calls media coverage of night out 'evil'


Still off the Cleveland Indians active roster after needing to be quarantined due to a night out with his friends, starting pitcher Zach Plesac posted a lengthy Instagram video on Thursday explaining the matter from his point of view.

A day later, after he had been optioned and had his video denounced by manager Terry Francona, Plesac deleted the video.

Over the course of six minutes, Plesac had accused the media of embellishing his story, confirmed he spent the night hanging out with as many as eight friends and claimed what he did wasn’t irresponsible. He was clearly recording the video while driving with his seatbelt tucked behind his shoulder.

While lamenting media criticism of his conduct, Plesac did not address the members of his team that have criticized the night out.

Zach Plesac blasts coverage of his night out with friends

Plesac deleted his video on Friday, but copies of the diatribe live on through the magic of the internet:

Plesac’s video begins with him saying he wanted to clear the air about his night out, then he goes on to blame the media for the perception of his night out:

“The media really is terrible, man. The media is terrible and they do some evil things to create stories and to make things sound better, makes things sound worse. Truthfully, I’m disgusted the way the media has handled this whole situation surrounding our team.”

After lamenting the media’s portrayal of his conduct, Plesac decided to confirm pretty much everything that has been reported about his conduct.

What Zach Plesac says happened

Per The Athletic, Cleveland sent Plesac home and made him quarantine after learning he had broken protocol by going out with friends in Chicago on Saturday night. It was later revealed that he was joined by teammate Mike Clevinger, who was also forced to quarantine. Here is what Plesac said happened:

“Out in Chicago, we played the White Sox. A couple days prior to leaving for this trip, the MLB came up with these new protocols that required a curfew and some other things that would keep us more isolated as baseball players and contain us more in a bubble-type sense. After my start, I went out to dinner with some buddies and we end up going back to his place, same group that we went to dinner with. We opened up baseball cards. Picked our top two dudes from each pack, we’re throwing bets down, just having a good time hanging out. We broke curfew, I came back late. I was reported by MLB security being out in public and coming back late to curfew. The president of baseball operations decided to quarantine me for three days, so that just in case I was exposed to COVID, it wouldn’t spread to the rest of the team. It was a great decision on his part. I rode a car service back to Cleveland and I quarantined for three days.”

That’s more or less a confirmation of reports about his evening with some added details about what he and his friends were up to. Plesac said the night out was something he had to do:

“Things are inevitable. You’re going to see people, you’re going to socially interact. You can’t sit in a room all day is the truth of the matter.”

Plesac then added that in his own “research,” he found that a group of 10 people or less is considered a “very safe gathering,” and that his group consisted of no more than eight people. However, MLB probably wouldn’t agree given that it is trying to enforce a bubble environment, because if every MLB player went out with eight friends each weekend, rampant coronavirus cases would be inevitable.

Plesac claimed to understand the dangers posed by the coronavirus and noted his little brother has Type 1 diabetes and his mother is a nurse. He fully admitted he broke protocol and accepted his punishment, but still insisted what he did was safe and that the media was overreacting:

“The media has portrayed me and my best friend and teammate to be malicious with our actions when we were really — not justifying what we did, because we left the hotel, and according to new rules, we weren’t supposed to leave — but according to CDC and these guidelines with corona, we were practicing safe practices in a small group with people we know have been tested. We came back to our curfew late, which was 10 p.m., clearly been exposed as bad teammates, bad people and dragged across the mud. It’s hard to sit here and watch things shuffle out and people not knowing the truth.”

Of course, what that rationalization ignores is the fact that much of the criticism of Plesac and Clevinger is coming from their own clubhouse.

Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Zach Plesac delivers during an exhibition baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh, Saturday, July 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Zach Plesac thinks he's been treated unfairly because of his night out. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Indians teammate: ‘They lied to us’

After Plesac and Clevinger’s outing had been revealed, a number of their teammates commented on the situation. Some were clearly bothered by the news, especially given that fellow starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco was undergoing Leukemia treatment just last year and could still be immuno-compromised.

Pitcher Adam Plutko was the harshest critic, telling reporters that Plesac and Clevinger had lied to their teammates about the outing:

Cleveland pitcher Shane Bieber added that he loves and supports Plesac, but “he screwed up.”

Star shortstop Francisco Lindor also spoke of the importance of selflessness as MLB tries to navigate a pandemic that is already wreaking havoc with its schedule.

Francona told reporters that events like the outing need to be avoided in the future. From The Athletic:

“I still think as a group our guys have done an extremely good job, and they’ve been very conscientious. This one kinda hurts. And we talked about it as a team, even today. We’ll deal with it like we always do. We care about each other. It doesn’t mean you don’t get disappointed with each other or even mad at each other sometimes. But what I care about is making it better. Not being vindictive, just trying to figure out how we make this better so it doesn’t happen again. The players will have a lot to say about this. Taking ownership of what we’re doing is really important.”

Plesac’s optioning on Friday reinforced that message, and it doesn’t sound like his video did anything to help the situation.

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