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Cleveland Pitcher Civale ’13 Handles Curveballs Thrown His Way 


When Aaron Civale was at Loomis Chaffee, his Twitter handle was @SilentCivale17. He was on the quiet side, kept his head down, as he says, and went about his business. 

But he sure knew how to make noise at opportune times. 

He threw a no-hitter in 2013, his senior year at Loomis, the first for the Pelicans in 36 years. And it came against rival Kingswood-Oxford.  

When he got the starting nod for Northeastern University in an annual spring training games versus the Boston Red Sox in 2015, the odds of his becoming the story that day were long. But his locker was where some reporters gathered after he pitched two no-hit innings, striking out David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Mike Napoli, and Xander Bogaerts.  

“At the time I was a reliever and just happened to not pitch the day before, and my coach asked me if I wanted to start,” Civale said in an interview this week. “It was a surreal experience. Going into the game you’re obviously a little nervous, but once you start throwing, it becomes the same game you’ve been playing since you were 4 years old, and baseball is baseball.” 

The Red Sox manager at the time was John Farrell. Civale and Farrell crossed paths later when Farrell was doing some baseball broadcasting. Farrell recalled that day. It’s hard for anyone to forget.  

“The memories I have live fondly in my head,” Civale said. “Growing up a Red Sox fan and having the chance to share the field with them meant more than anything to me. It was a day I will never forget.” 

Here’s another one that would be difficult not to remember: In his first major league start in 2019, Civale struck out the side in the first inning. He retired the first eight batters, struck out six, and allowed only two infield singles in six scoreless innings, getting the win as Cleveland beat the Tigers 2-0. 

He knows the highs, but with any pro athlete also come the lows.  

Certainly 2022 brought that for Civale in an injury-filled season. He missed a lot of time first with a right wrist sprain and then with right forearm inflammation, but he came back in September to make four starts, striking out 23 in 22 innings. He started the decisive Game 5 of the American League Division Series versus the Yankees and could not get out of the first inning, allowing three runs, as the Guardians lost. Civale was 5-6 in the regular season. 

It has been a tough year and a half for Civale, who will be 28 in June. In 2021 he was 10-2 with a 3.32 ERA in his first 15 starts and likely headed to the All-Star Game, but a sprained middle finger on his pitching hand caused him to miss more than two months. He was leading all major league pitchers in wins at the time of his injury. He ended up with only two more wins but a fine 12-5 record. 

“It’s hard at times,” Civale said of dealing with injuries, “especially if it happens over and over again, or if it’s bad, or if things are going well and something happens. I’ve had all the above. It’s hard, but it is the game I chose to play. At the end of the day, if you’re putting in the daily work and knowing you are doing everything you physically can to prepare, that brings some comfort if injuries happen because you know it is not for lack of effort. It is something that simply is part of the game, and an athlete at any level is always risking physical injury.” 

In a way the 2023 season cannot come fast enough. Civale has worked hard in the offseason and recently signed a one-year deal for $2.6 million to avoid arbitration. The Guardians are coming off a trip to the playoffs as the American League Central Division champions. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in Goodyear, Arizona, on February 14; the full squad reports February 19. 

If ever Civale needed to channel the Loomis motto, it might have been during those times in the past two seasons when he was injured. Ne cede malis. Yield not to adversity.  

He does not yield. He keeps moving forward and, befitting his introspective nature, tries to get the most out of adversity. 

“If you are not learning or gaining a new understanding after something happens, then that incident is a waste of time and you’re not gaining anything from those moments,” Civale said. 

He also said it’s important to keep things in perspective. Knowing much has been given to him, he tries to give to others. 

Civale was Cleveland’s nominee for the 2021 Roberto Clemente Award, presented annually to the Major League Baseball player who "best represents the game through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field."  

Aaron and his wife, Fran, have been involved in many facets of community work in the Cleveland area. 

“If I am not using the opportunity that I have to do something for the greater good, then I am wasting the opportunity [to become a Major League Baseball player] that I worked so hard to get,” Civale said. 




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