Carlos Carrasco grateful for support, eager to help Indians this season

The 32-year-old pitched on Sunday for the first time since being diagnosed with leukemia

James Rapien
September 02, 2019 - 5:32 pm
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CLEVELAND, OH – Carlos Carrasco sat down in the multipurpose room at Progressive Field on Monday in front of a large media gathering.

“There’s a lot of people here,” he said with a smile.

Carrasco has plenty of reasons to be happy these days. He pitched in his first big league game in over three months on Sunday. The past three months have been long. Some people would’ve stopped smiling after being diagnosed with leukemia, but not Carrasco – he was focused on beating cancer, helping children with it and ultimately, returning to the mound. 

The 32-year-old wasn’t alone in this fight. His family and teammates were there the whole time, which undoubtedly gave him the boost he needed to return to the field.

“He didn’t want anybody to feel sorry for him,” manager Terry Francona said. “We tried to explain to him that sometimes that’s what you’ve got friends for, to lean on.”

Jason Kipnis was as involved as anyone on the team. The two exchanged countless texts that included words of encouragement. Those words and thoughts culminated into a giant hug in the dugout following Carrasco’s return to the mound.

“Kipnis said, 'I'm proud of you. You've been doing a lot. I saw you, for those three months, what was going on.' I almost cried that time,” Carrasco said.

The camaraderie with the 2019 Indians is much different than most professional baseball teams. Francisco Lindor hugging Carrasco on the mound was special. This team came together after the diagnosis. Now they hope they have enough in the tank to make another run in the final month of the season.

Carrasco hopes to contribute any way he can. The Indians were encouraged with how he pitched on Sunday.

“I thought the ball came out of his hand great,” Francona said. “He threw the ball really well. His heart was probably racing.”

Carrasco isn’t available on Monday. The Indians don’t want to use him in back-to-back games so soon.

“We’d certainly like to get to a point where we can, just not the first week,” Francona said.

Carrasco knows he will get plenty of attention about his diagnosis and return to the field, but he admitted it was refreshing to talk about baseball and how he could give the team a boost.

“I just want to help get some wins again and keep it on the game right now,” he said.

Sunday Butterflies

Carrasco was ecstatic to returned to the mound against the Rays, but this appearance was different than any other one he had in his career.

“My whole body started shaking like crazy,” he said. “When they told me, ‘Get ready, you’ve got the next inning,’ I just started like, ‘Oh my God.’ I couldn’t control myself. “As soon as I released the first pitch everything went away.”

Staying Positive

Carrasco never lost hope following his diagnosis, which is a testament to him, his family and the Indians organization. He maintained a positive outlook.

"I’ve been just playing the same guy I’ve always been, a clown or whatever you want to call it,” he said. “That’s the way I am and that’s what I want, all you guys know me – why does it have to be sad because I have this? I’m just fine.”