Former Oriole and native Baltimorean Steve Clevenger was suspended Friday by the Seattle Mariners without pay for the rest of the season after he posted two racially-charged statements on Twitter in reference to the death of a black man shot by police in North Carolina and the subsequent violent protests there.
On Thursday, Clevenger issued a statement through his agent that apologized to anyone “who was offended” about the inflammatory tweets, which included, “Everyone should be locked behind bars like animals!” in reference to the protestors.
On Friday, Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, a teammate of Clevenger’s for parts of three years, was asked about the issue.
“Anybody is entitled to say whatever he wanted,” Jones said. “If that’s how he feels, that’s how he feels. Who am I to judge anybody on how they feel?”
Jones made news earlier this month when he told USA Today that there were no obvious, racial unrest protests by baseball players because baseball is primarily a white man’s sport.
“If I say something, people judge me, and so, he says something, let people judge him. Mariners took action as they see fit,” Jones said. “I got a game to win here in Baltimore. I’m not worried what goes on in Seattle.”
Jones and Clevenger were friendly, but not really friends. That, Jones said, is not unusual in Major League Baseball clubhouses like many workplaces.
“I know him personally. I’ve never seen him say this. It’s not going to change anything about me or how I feel,” Jones said. “I don’t think we ever were friends. We were teammates, acquaintances. That’s what 99 percent of people you come across (are.) I played with a lot of people. To say I’m friends with most people I played with, that’s not true.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter was also asked about the situation involving Clevenger, and he had little to say.
“Do I have a reaction? Yeah. Am I gonna state them publicly? No,” Showalter said. “Still kind of collecting my thoughts on it. … Obviously, it wasn’t good and that’s putting it mildly.”
Last August, Clevenger became the first Baltimore-born Oriole to homer at Camden Yards in the history of the stadium. Clevenger spent part of his childhood in the Pigtown neighborhood near Camden Yards and graduated from Mount Saint Joseph’s. He referenced his Baltimore upbringing in his issued apology.
“I grew up in a very culturally diverse area of America and I am very proud to come from there. I am also proud that my inner circle of friends has never been defined by race, but by the content of their character,” he said. “Any former teammate or anyone who has met me can attest to this and I pride myself on not being a judgmental person. I just ask that the public not judge me because of an ill-worded tweet.”
The Orioles acquired Clevenger as part of the ill-fated 2013 trade that sent Jake Arrieta to the Chicago Cubs. Clevenger batted .259 in 69 games with the Orioles from 2013 to 2015 and then was traded this offseason for slugger Mark Trumbo.
Clevenger hit just .221 in 22 games with the Mariners before a fractured bone in his hand ended his season in late June. He will lose roughly $30,000 in salary due to the suspension.
After several questions to Jones on Friday, the center fielder ultimately dismissed the inquiries, stressing that his mind was focused on getting the Orioles into the playoffs and not Clevenger.
“You guys are trying to get answers that you can’t look for. He said what he said. The Mariners took action. Cool,” Jones said. “We’ve got games to win here in Baltimore. If that’s what you guys are coming to me talking about when we’re in the fight for a playoff hunt, that means there’s something bad in the news.”