Emmanuel Clase could be ready for “full” season, if there is one

GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 19: Emmanuel Clase #48 of the Cleveland Indians poses during MLB Photo Day on February 19, 2020 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 19: Emmanuel Clase #48 of the Cleveland Indians poses during MLB Photo Day on February 19, 2020 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

If MLB’s hopes to begin the 2020 season in June come to fruition, Cleveland Indians reliever Emmanuel Clase could be in line to miss minimal time.

When Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Emmanuel Clase was shut down in late February with a muscle strain in his back, his recovery timeline was set between eight and 12 weeks. A few weeks later, it was determined that everyone would be shut down for an indefinite yet lengthy period of time.

The longer this all drags on, the easier it is to believe the 2020 MLB season will be drastically delayed–if it’s even played out at all.

Per R.J. Anderson of CBSSports.com, MLB and the MLBPA are working to salvage what can be of 2020, and are hopeful that a June start to the season is in the cards. ESPN’s Jeff Passan also broke down an interview between Rob Manfred and Scott Van Pelt, in which the commissioner resoundingly drove home his commitment to getting baseball back into America’s daily routine.

From Manfred himself, in Passan’s story for ESPN.com:

"“Look, my optimistic outlook is that at some point in May, we’ll be gearing back up,” he added. “We’ll have to make a determination, depending what the precise date is, as to how much of a preparation period we need, whether that preparation period is going to be done in the clubs’ home cities or back in Florida and Arizona. Again, I think the goal would be to get as many regular-season games as possible and think creatively about how we can accomplish that goal.”"

Manfred’s optimism aside, there are so many different and unpredictable variables at play that nearly every imaginable possibility regarding the 2020 MLB calendar (both hopeful and cynical) must be taken with a grain of salt.

In any case, “gearing back up” in May would lend itself to the possibility of a June kickoff to the regular season. And a June Opening Day would mean the season could begin around the less optimistic end of Clase’s recovery timeline. Clase was set to miss at least all of March and April, with his earliest potential return occurring sometime in May.

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There are countless drawbacks to a shortened or delayed MLB season, but players being given the opportunity to recover from injuries without missing significant chunks of the regular season is not one of them.

Of course, the league-wide shutdown begs the question of how effectively Clase will actually be able to manage his back injury. A normal MLB schedule would have allowed Clase the opportunity to work out in a controlled environment, surrounded by training staff and medical professionals, and he would eventually have logged some innings in the minors to complete his rehab.

Until teams are given the go-ahead to reconvene in an organizational capacity, Clase and other injured players are without that regimented process. Only time will tell to what extent that impacts Clase’s recovery.

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None of this matters unless there is in fact a baseball season in 2020, but dwelling on the worst possible outcome helps no one. With the league making a concerted effort to begin playing games again at some point in June, at least the window is open for Clase to miss minimal time. Amid this maelstrom of uncertainty and bad news, Clase and the Indians will certainly embrace that small victory.