Carlos Carrasco is finally getting his career back on track. It may just be too late in the season to matter this year, at least to the Cleveland Indians.
To the Akron Aeros and Trenton Thunder, however, the two innings he’s scheduled to throw in his Game 3 start at Waterfront Park could be the difference between an Eastern League Championship Series sweep or a fourth game on Saturday.
The 25-year-old righty hasn’t thrown a pitch in the big leagues since undergoing Tommy John surgery in September of 2011.
“I feel pretty good during my rehab, and I’m going to continue to rehab with my two innings on Friday,” said Carrasco in a one-on-one chat on the field at Canal Park in Akron.
“This is my first time having this surgery, and they sent me here to continue my rehab. I’m doing everything with my program, and that’s why I’m here. Everything’s coming along good. Sometimes, I’m a little bit sore like normal, but everything’s fine.”
Carrasco came up in the Phillies system, and was considered their top prospect going into the 2007 season. He pitched in the Futures Game three separate times and was a key piece of a 2009 trade deadline deal that sent him to the Indians in exchange for Cliff Lee. He debuted in the big leagues later that season, but didn’t become a regular member of Cleveland’s starting rotation until 2011, a year in which he went 8-9 with a 4.62 ERA in 21 starts.
But he experienced elbow discomfort towards the end of the season and eventually had to undergo Tommy John surgery. The recovery process has been a tedious one. Only recently was Carrasco cleared to throw his slider, as he was previously only permitted to use his fastball and changeup before getting into game action.
“Sometimes, it’s been really hard (to deal with missing the season), but everything’s coming along good,” he said.
“I work all this season, and that’s why I feel strong. I don’t feel ready yet, like 100 percent yet. But everything’s coming good with throwing some innings. I don’t think about (the big leagues), but I don’t know yet. It’s not my decision, so I’ll just continue here with my rehab and we’ll see from there.”
Big leagues or not, these won’t be the only innings the Venezuelan-born hurler gets under his belt before spring training. Carrasco told me he’s slated to head to the instructional league in Arizona, perhaps five or six games of three or four innings a piece to continue his rehab.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com