Clevinger investigation latest in tough times for White Sox

This is the time of the year where every major-league baseball team is feeling good about its chances.

"I just feel like this group of guys, they're special. The talent is there."

That was veteran outfielder Andrew McCutchen, who is back with the Pirates on a one-year contract.

Pittsburgh has lost a combined 201 games the past two seasons and its entire 2023 payroll ($76 million) will be less than the Mets are paying starting pitchers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.

Regardless, anything seems possible a few weeks before training camp opens.

The White Sox are optimistic as well, but a few of the springs are missing from their step as training camp nears.

Let's take a look:

Mike Clevinger

After being accused of domestic violence and child abuse, the Sox's new starting pitcher issued a denial.

"Mike emphatically denies the accusations made by Ms. (Olivia) Finestead," Clevinger's attorney, Jay Reisinger, said in a statement. "He has never harmed Ms. Finestead or his daughter. We will not comment on Ms. Finestead's motive for bringing these false allegations. The simple truth is that Mike has done nothing wrong.

"He is a loving and caring father. We have advised Mike not to comment on this matter."

In an Instagram story and during an interview with The Athletic Tuesday, Finestead accused Clevinger of "several acts" of abuse, including trying to strangle her and throwing used chewing tobacco on their infant daughter.

In a statement, the White Sox said they were unaware of the allegations against Clevinger when they signed him to a one-year, $12 million contract in early December.

The Sox also said they will "refrain from comment until MLB's investigative process has reached its conclusion."

With spring training coming up fast, is Clevinger going to be at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., when pitchers and catchers report in mid-February?

Is he going to be in the White Sox's rotation when the season opens on March 30 at Houston?

Do the Sox need to go out and get another starter?

Stay tuned.

Liam Hendriks

Earlier this month, the White Sox's all-star closer announced he was beginning treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"I am confident that I will make a full recovery and be back on the mound as soon as possible," Hendriks wrote on his Instagram page.

The Sox expressed similar optimism in a statement, adding: "We do not expect to have any updates on Liam's playing status prior to Opening Day at the very earliest."

While they may need to go out and find a starting pitcher to replace Clevinger, the White Sox are expected to wait on Hendriks' return and use Kendall Graveman, Joe Kelly or Reynaldo Lopez to close out games in the ninth inning.

There is no question Hendriks will be missed, both on the field and in the clubhouse.

"It was definitely pretty devastating to hear," Sox starter Dylan Cease said. "He obviously is a huge part of what we have going on and you know on the baseball side, it's a big loss. But you know, to us he's a friend and almost like family first.

"So, it's pretty devastating to hear but it sounds like it should be something he'll be able to overcome and obviously, it's much more important than baseball."

Eloy Jimenez

Ending last season with 28 straight starts at designated hitter, it looked like Jimenez was settling into his new role.

Not quite.

With newcomer Andrew Benintendi occupying his old position, left field, Jimenez is now setting his sights on playing right.

He's a below average defensive outfielder prone to injury, so it's up to new manager Pedro Grifol to somehow get Jimenez on board as the White Sox's regular DH.

"I've been working really hard to play the outfield more than DH," Jimenez said on a Zoom call Monday. "So I don't really think that I'm going to accept it because if I'm working hard, I'm going to get better and I want to play in the outfield."

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Eloy Jimenez is a below average defensive outfielder prone to injury, so it's up to new manager Pedro Grifol to somehow get Jimenez on board as the White Sox's regular DH. Associated Press
There is no question Sox closer Liam Hendriks will be missed, both on the field and in the clubhouse as he deals with a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Associated Press
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