Spring Training Notes 2/20: Mike Clevinger looking stronger

The months of November, December and January provided MLB players with the opportunity to improve upon their physical attributes. For Mike Clevinger, the need for a stronger lower half was addressed and visually evident through his first few bullpen sessions this spring. The IBI's John Alfes has the latest news and notes from big league camp...

It was not the longest of off-seasons, but Mike Clevinger did everything in his power to take advantage of the rest, recover and rebuild process.

As a former 15th ranked prospect for the Cleveland Indians in 2015, Clevinger is "noticeably stronger" and throwing "like 100 miles per hour" according to manager Terry Francona. 

"Typically when guys get their first taste of the major leagues, they show up at major league camp next year and for whatever reason they just look stronger, like they belong," said Francona. "He has really thickened and I mean in a good way."

In addition to the 26-year-old's added muscle mass, the Tribe skipper addressed Brandon Guyer, Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley on Monday afternoon.

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- Despite his role as a rotational depth option for 2017, Clevinger has turned heads this spring and entered the mix for a spot in the big league bullpen or Triple-A starting rotation.

"He's noticeably stronger," Francona said. "He's in great shape and he's throwing the ball great. His breaking ball looks like it's improved, he's cut out some of the extra-curricular parts of his delivery, some of the tapping that led to some issues. He's trying to put himself in a good position to show what he can do."

- One of the first players to step in the batters box and track pitches against Andrew Miller was Guyer. Although last year's trade deadline acquisition did not have a pleasant experience against the southpaw's sweeping slider, he expressed his anticipation for the upcoming campaign and how he has managed to lead the MLB in hit by pitches for the past two seasons.

"We're all itching to get back to {the World Series} and hopefully be the team this year," said Guyer before detailing his hit by pitch tactics. "I always say it's just a combination of three things. When I stride, I'm not close to the plate but my front foot ends up close to it so it's closer than when the pitcher first sees it. Lefties try to pitch me in a lot - then I just don't move when it's lower. (The) upper half I tend to move instinctually, the lower half instinctually I don't move."

"You combine those three things, I think that's what leads to me getting hit a lot."

- Kipnis was not present at camp on Monday but had permission from the coaching staff in what was labeled an excused absence. The 29-year-old has been backed up to begin workouts due to his shoulder-strengthening program.

- No swings have been made, but Brantley made his long-awaited return to the left-handed side of the batters box in Goodyear, AZ. Brantley tracked pitches from Joseph Colon with no permission to swing the bat. The former seventh round pick recently advanced to the soft toss stage of his hitting progression.

John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.

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