AKRON, Ohio — Cleveland Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco began the comeback trail to the majors after being diagnosed with leukemia earlier this season when he made a rehabilitation appearance for the Double-A Akron RubberDucks at Canal Park in Akron Monday night.
Carrasco came out of the bullpen and pitched a scoreless sixth inning in a 7-4 loss to the Harrisburg Senators.
After walking the leadoff hitter, Carrasco induced a fly ball out to center field, and then, got some help from the defense when catcher Logan Ice fired a throw down to second base and caught runner Rhett Wiseman trying to steal second base.
Carrasco ended his one inning of work with a strikeout.
“This feels great, and first, I just want to thank everyone who supported me, my family, God, my teammates and fans, all of those people who have always been there,” Carrasco said. “Just getting back to the mound is really exciting. It feels great.
“I felt a little bit nervous when they called and told me, ‘Get ready.’ I just kind of started to feel a little bit nervous in there, but as soon as I started throwing those pitches in the bullpen, it was like everything came back to normal.”
Carrasco received a standing ovation when he jogged out to the mound following the bottom of the fifth inning, and after getting the walk-off strikeout, he was greeted with another round of cheers and applause, from fans and RubberDucks players and coaches alike.
And then, there was the reaction of his family in attendance which drew out Carrasco’s trademark smile.
“It was a lot of emotion,” Carrasco said.
“These guys here, the teammates, the fans, my family was out there, my kids, so the reason that I smiled was because I got the strikeout, and then, I saw my kids laughing and happy. That’s what it is about. Those two-and-a-months, my family’s always been there, so I was really excited to see my kids smile.”
The key to Carrasco being able to make enough strides to return to the mound despite the midseason diagnosis is maintaining a positive mindset.
“This is what I have,” Carrasco said of his battle with chronic myeloid leukemia.
“You know what I have, and I don’t want to go to bed sitting there, thinking about what I have. I’ve just gotten stronger than that working on myself, and the only thing I put here in my mind is good thoughts, never bad. Always a good thought, and just coming back home with my family, I forget what I have.”
Prior to the diagnosis, Carrasco had a 4-6 record and 4.98 earned run average in his 12 starts this season. Over 65.0 innings of work, Carrasco registered 79 strikeouts against 74 hits, 11 walks and 37 runs, including 36 earned runs allowed.
During his 10-year run with the Indians, Carrasco is 83-68 (.550 winning percentage) with a 3.78 earned run average. In 1,159.1 innings of work over 219 appearances, including 183 starts, Carrasco registered 1,206 strikeouts against 1,092 hits, 487 earned runs and 289 walks allowed.
Carrasco very much is looking forward to being a contributor to the Indians’ on-field efforts down the stretch of the regular season, and hopefully, a long playoff run.
“Whatever the team needs me, I’m ready for,” Carrasco said. “I feel great.
“It’s been crazy a little. The team was like 14 games from first place, and now, it’s like 2.5. They’ve been playing good baseball, and I can’t wait to go back and play with them. I’m really excited for that, can’t wait for that.”