Why He’s Interesting: Clevinger defies Major League Baseball’s tradition of conformity with his long locks, colorful cleats, tattoo sleeve and hippie tendencies. But there’s not much critics can say about the 28-year-old’s on-field performance — the Floridian had a successful 2018 season with a 3.02 ERA, 13 wins and 207 strikeouts.
Shifty Stance: Clevinger’s pitching motion starts like a kid with restless leg syndrome and ends with him nearly falling to the ground. Luckily, no one ever tried to change it. “It shouldn’t be, ‘Can my kid throw a Trevor Bauer curveball?’ It should be, ‘How athletically and powerfully can you move to the plate? How hard can you throw the ball through the catcher?’ ”
Reel Life: An avid fisherman, Clevinger’s offseason routine once involved kayaking a fishing route in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida’s coast, which holds redfish, flounder and trout. The apex of the trip was a temporary, 500-square-foot sandbar they called, “Shark Island.” “We’d just use the rest of our bait there, shrimp after shrimp, trying to get the biggest shark that we could get to bite. It got me in pretty good shape.”
Push Over: While he expected to be a stern disciplinarian, Clevinger — who has two daughters, Penelope Grace, 3, and Piper Lotus, 1, with wife, Monica — ended up as a big softie. “I’m a huge marshmallow. If mom says, ‘No, Penelope,’ she walks right past her and says, ‘Daddy, can I have these?’ ”
Turn It Up: Classic rock-fueled drives with his father made the Jimi Hendrix-obsessed pitcher fall in love with the genre. “You could never get in my dad’s truck without Lynyrd Skynyrd playing. When I was young, I would be like, ‘Turn that shit off,’ but the older I got, the more I appreciated it.”
Out Of Step: In May, a pair of tie-dye sunflower cleats designed by local artist Jonathan Hrusovsky put Clevinger in violation of Section A, Attachment 19 of Major League Baseball’s Uniform Regulations, which banned non-team colors, phrases and illustrations. A November ruling relaxed the rule slightly, but it remains restrictive. “That’s the old-school ways; that’s tradition for you. It’s basically a couple of guys’ ideal of what someone should look like, be like, act like.”
Bauer’s Buddy: Clevinger’s odd-couple friendship with conservative, brash and brainy pitcher Trevor Bauer infatuated fans last season. But Bauer’s data-driven mind provides a competitive ying to Clevinger’s ethereal yang. “I never want to keep track of numbers, but TB is a big numbers guy. He’ll be like, ‘Hey, you need to squeeze two more innings out of this game if you’re going to reach 200.’"
Three and Out:
What’s inspiring you right now?
[Our] house. Just putting it together. This is our first time owning a home, so it’s really exciting. It’s probably been more stress than exciting right now because we’re trying to get everything ordered and shipped in and put together. But it’s been really, really inspiring to be able to just build it around these little girls.
What’s making you laugh right now?
This chubby, little baby we’ve got. This little one’s getting more and more full of personality. Her blonde head is like 98 percentile — she’s got this big blonde head, big blue eyes. She’s an absolute nut. Any song that comes on, no matter what genre, she starts dancing and she claps.
What album would you bring to a desert island?
I’d probably do something in the house section, so I could get a mixture of calm and upbeat. I’m going to cheat. We’ll do Avicii’s greatest hits and Jimi Hendrix’s greatest hits. I smuggled an extra one.