HOUSTON — Mike Clevinger had more on his plate in the offseason than most after signing a one-year, $12 million free agent deal with the White Sox, dealing with Major League Baseball’s investigation into domestic violence allegations brought against him by the mother of his infant daughter.
The investigation was ongoing as Clevinger reported to camp in early February. He and general manager Rick Hahn answered questions about it on the first day of spring training, and then Clevinger prepared for the season on a normal schedule. On March 5, MLB announced he would face no discipline.
In four Cactus League starts covering 15 2⁄3 innings, Clevinger allowed 12 earned runs on 17 hits — five of them home runs — and four walks. He struck out 14 batters.
Lined up fourth in the rotation in front of Michael Kopech — who will start the home opener against the Giants Monday — Clevinger gets his first real test Sunday against the Astros in a game the Sox need to salvage a four-game split in their first series of the season.
“Just ready to get the season started and get everything behind me,” Clevinger told the Sun-Times. “There’s been a lot. I can finally focus on just baseball, on just getting comfortable with the guys in this clubhouse and working towards our goal.”
Clevinger is 1-3 with a 3.98 ERA in four starts against the Astros. He owns a 2.03 ERA over 13 1⁄3 career innings at Minute Maid Park.
Green light for Anderson
Leadoff man Tim Anderson is 6-for-13 after getting two singles Saturday, and he walked once in each of the first two games, an encouraging sign for a hitter who walked 14 times in 79 games last season.
“He’s had good at bats,” manager Pedro Grifol said. “That’s the one thing he wanted to get better at and he’s doing it. He’s talked about it and he’s showing it now.”
Anderson, had stolen bases in each of the first two games. He has the green light to steal when he wants to.
“He’s always on his own,” Grifol said. “I ran the running game [as a coach] in Kansas City and he was a pain in the [butt]. Just because he always looks like he’s running and he is running until he shuts it down. He always had me on the other side like, ‘he’s going, he’s going’ and he wasn’t.’ ’’
Grifol said Anderson has good instincts on the bases.
“He has good tempo, good rhythm and he seems to pick the perfect pitches and perfect time to run,” Grifol said.
“I trust him with the green light.”
Andrus almost there
Elvis Andrus was 0-for-4, still one hit shy of 2,000 for his career, a milestone Grifol calls “unbelieveable.”
“Two hundred ninety players in the history of baseball have done that,” Grifol said. “It’s just a credit to him and his work ethic and habits and how he takes care of himself. Because not only do you have to be good and talented but you have to stay in the game a long, long time. And he’s not getting close to being done in my opinion.”
Andrus, who switched to second base this season, is 34.
“He’s got plenty of baseball left,” Grifol said. “It’s not going to stop there.”