Plesac Takes His Truth to Instagram

Zach Plesac took to Instagram on Thursday to clarify some of the details that resulted in him being sent back to Cleveland via car by the Indians on Sunday prior to the conclusion of the team’s series in Chicago with the White Sox.

As a result, the Indians’ public relations staff likely had a busier day than expected on what was to be the team’s second scheduled off day of the season.

The 25-year-old Plesac, currently on Cleveland’s restricted list after violating team and league safety protocols involving the coronavirus, took the opportunity in a six minute and 31 second video while driving unsecured around town (…) to explain some of what transpired during what most would consider to be a poor decision while the team was on the road in Chicago, not far from where he grew up.

The video, which Plesac captioned in part with “Not an apology. Not a justification. The Truth.”, chronicled his Saturday evening, when he exited the team hotel with “best friend” Mike Clevinger after earning the win that day in the team’s win over the White Sox. He led by stating that he wanted to clear the air, voice his opinion and some raw emotions, and share the truth to dispel some of what the media had portrayed in the hours and days that followed.

Plesac acknowledged that following his start on Saturday, he went out to dinner with friends and went back to one of their places, opening up baseball cards while maintaining appropriate social distancing with the same group of individuals, no more than eight per his report at any one time.

The pair of pitchers did not report back to the hotel by the curfew time. Plesac said that he was reported by MLB security for being out in public and coming back after the 10 PM curfew and that the President of Baseball Operations [Chris Antonetti] mandated the three-day quarantine to prevent a COVID-19 spread in the event that he had come into contact with the virus while out (such outbreaks have already wrecked havoc across the league already). He shared that both nasal swabs for the virus have come back negative.

Plesac clarified some of the new protocols implemented by MLB, including a curfew and other things geared to isolate players in “a bubble-type sense”. He shared his experience inquiring with a doctor on what behaviors would be considered safe and best practice in the current pandemic and that his findings were that those expectations were changing day-to-day and differed state-to-state.

While stating that he was not trying to justify his actions, he seemed to be doing exactly that at one point. He said that he was practicing safe practices and appropriate social distances with an acceptable number of people (with those he said he knows had been tested) and felt that he and Clevinger had been “dragged across the mud” for their “malicious actions” and had been made out to be “bad teammates, bad people”. He did note during this commentary that he broke the rules, but it was not the focal point of the rant.

If his opinion is that MLB’s expectations of its players presently are unreasonable and unfair, it felt lost in the shuffle, even if there is some validity to the matter. Instead, it seemed that he was minimizing his offense because he was safe and smart about how he behaved outside of the hotel bubble, rather than focusing on the violation of team and league rules that were implemented for the safety of all.

Plesac took the opportunity several times throughout the video to take shots at the media for blowing the matter out of proportion, going so far as to call them “terrible”, saying that “they do some evil things to create stories”, and that he is “disgusted with the way the media has handled the whole situation surrounding our team”. At the end of the day, he was the one who opened himself up to the scrutiny by breaking protocol in the first place, regardless of whether or not he felt that he had jeopardized others with his actions. It seemed early on that Plesac was displaying better self-awareness than Clevinger and had done better at owning his actions and taking his lumps right away, but his decision Thursday to “share his truth” seemed to deflect some of that ownership while questioning the current arrangements that MLB players are forced to abide by. If nothing else, it makes it very easy to see how players could buckle to the pressures of being cooped up during this pandemic and gamble on a trip outside, making the outbreaks that happened in Miami and St. Louis more plausible and relatable.

For those who have lost their jobs or even loved ones due to the virus or have been unable to be out safely with friends and family out of fears of catching it (or due to regionalized mandates), there may not be a ton of sympathy for Plesac, even knowing full well the inconvenience that he and other ball players have been placed under to provide the world with 60 games of entertainment at their expense. As an aside, few are “living their best lives” right now while hamstrung by the various limitations attached to our every day lives. His “truth” rang hollow – even after acknowledging that his mother is a nurse and that his younger brother has a medical condition. It lacked an apology (noted directly in his caption) that would have been a nice consideration, and the justifications that he was trying not to make only made his actions seem that much more selfish and with an utter disregard for the health conditions of those around him and an emphasis on his own personal needs for social engagement (a battle quite normal that many deal with daily across the country).

Even worse for him, his media attack and the unnecessary attempt not to justify his actions repainted the target that was once on him only briefly. In the court of public opinion, it seemed as though many had moved on from his lesser transgressions of Plesac to the more egregious ones made by his best friend Clevinger, who failed to step up when Plesac was busted and did not take his own ownership of things until after he spent Sunday night at Guaranteed Rate Field with his teammates, coaches, and others ahead of boarding a flight together back to Cleveland.

Just like with the great debate over whether or not we should wear masks in public, this matter is far more about protecting those around you than about the individual. Plesac’s reputation took a bit of a hit as a result of his decision to spend an evening with friends, and I would imagine the extra media attention that was caused by his actions has led to a very busy and stressful week, not just for himself, but for his friends and family, his teammates, his coaches, and the Indians organization as a whole. One can only hope that it was a selfish mistake that is easily correctable. He can regain the trust of those around him with his actions, which will as always speak louder than words.

Social media is a dangerous tool nowadays, with plenty of perks but numerous inherent risks. It seems as though this was one instance in which Plesac’s silence following his statement through the Indians organization on Sunday night would have been the preferable course of action. A simple, “I screwed up, I was insensitive to those around me with my actions, and I will strive to do better moving forward” would have done much more good for his tarnished image than a video that seemed to state in a roundabout manner that “These rules suck and aren’t fair so I ignored them”.

To be fair, I am sure having an opportunity to clear some of the dirt on his name was a huge motivating factor in releasing the video, but the attempt may have inadvertently kicked up more of the dust that had already begun settling around him instead. I cannot begin to imagine the level in which his life and his decisions have been dissected on a national scale by talking heads from coast to coast. Hopefully from here, Plesac will let his pitching do the talking and he focuses on returning to the good graces of his teammates, coaches, and the Indians front office while looking to get off of the restricted list and back onto that of the pitching probables as soon as possible.

To see his video firsthand, visit Plesac’s Instagram page here. [Editor’s note: Plesac has since removed the heavily criticized video. – BT]

Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

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