The San Diego Padres have been off to a hot start to the 2022 season. Things got much better on Wednesday, as starting pitcher Mike Clevinger made his season debut. Although he did not pitch well, it’s a minor miracle he has made it back to the majors. Clevinger had not pitched in a major league game in almost two years after having Tommy John Surgery in 2021.

During his postgame press conference, Clevinger could not help but get emotional.

“I didn’t think I was going to pitch again… I’m just happy,” Clevinger said as captured by Padres beat writer Kevin Acee.

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Clevinger only lasted 4 2/3 innings in his debut, allowing three earned runs on four hits and three walks, striking out four Guardians batters. He worked really hard in his first start, needing 95 pitches and did not get out of the fifth.

The Padres righty missed significant time back in 2019 with a back injury. After a trip on the 60-day IL, he then hurt his ankle late that season. He only made four appearances in 2020 after numerous injuries. Then last season, the big blow to his shoulder cost him yet another entire season.

San Diego has been patient with the flame-throwing right handed starter. Despite his struggles Wednesday, the Padres won the first game of a double header, 5-4 over the Cleveland Guardians. They are now 16-8 and only percentage points behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.

The depth of the Padres rotation was already a strength of the team. If Clevinger can return to his form prior to his elbow and shoulder issues, San Diego might truly be a force to be reckoned with.