Two months after revealing that he was diagnosed with leukemia, Carlos Carrasco could be on the mound pitching meaningful innings for a playoff contender.
Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona told MLB Network Radio on Wednesday that the team plans to activate Carrasco on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays and that he could see action out of the bullpen.
Francona: ‘We’ll pitch him out of the bullpen’
“The plan is to activate him on the first, that’s Sunday,” Francona said. “If all goes well tomorrow in his last bullpen outing, we’ll pitch him out of the bullpen.”
Carrasco, a 10-year veteran with the Indians, has been on the injured list since June 5 and revealed on July 6 that he had been diagnosed with leukemia. At the time, he told Dominican news channel CDN 37 that he had been undergoing treatment and had the illness under control.
Carrasco threw 97 mph in return to mound
Things are going so well that he was able to resume competitive baseball on Aug. 19, where he received a standing ovation after throwing a scoreless relief inning that included hurling a 97 mph fastball for Double-A Akron.
“Right away, I looked back to the scoreboard because I just wanted to find out what was that pitch, and it was 97,” Carrasco said that night of his return to the mound. “It feels great.”
‘It’s gonna be fun having him back’
Francona had hinted prior to Carrasco’s minor league appearance that a return to the big league club this season was feasible. Now it appears to be all but a done deal.
“When he started throwing bullpens, just to see his face light up and then have him in the dugout and see our guys react to him was really cool,” Francona said Wednesday. “We said if these bullpens lead to him pitching for us, that’s kind of icing on the cake.
“What’s really more important by a big distance is his wellness. He just seems so excited to be back pitching again. ... It’s gonna be fun having him back.”
Carrasco started 12 games this season before being sidelined, posting a 4.98 ERA and 1.308 WHIP.
Now he’ll return to the bullpen for an Indians team that sits 3 1/2 games behind the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central and is in first place in the AL wild-card race.
Carrasco’s return is a great story. That he’ll be slated to pitch in games with stakes speaks to the Indians’ confidence in his health and abilities and his value to the clubhouse.
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