In the midst of the spring training grind, the Angels-Indians game Tuesday provided an inspirational moment.
Carlos Carrasco made his first start for Cleveland since last May — before he was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia. He missed three months while undergoing treatment, but made good on his promise to return before the end of last season and pitched 15 innings in relief in September.
“It was emotional, just getting to this point. I feel happy,” Carrasco said after pitching two innings in Arizona. “I think everything’s come out pretty good, I’m really excited to start again.”
He wasn’t the only one who was happy about it.
“Awesome. Special,” said Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor. “It’s a blessing to have him on the field.”
“He’s been pitching for a long time and he knows what he needs to do to get ready,” said Sandy Leon, who caught him Tuesday.
Carrasco, 32, allowed three hits and two runs against a Los Angeles lineup highlighted by Mike Trout, but Carrasco threw mostly strikes and used all of his pitches. His Cactus League debut was delayed a few days due to a strained right hip flexor, but he reported no difficulties with that Tuesday.
“I actually thought he was pretty good,” manager Terry Francona said.
Carrasco finished 2019 on a high note by just being able to pitch again. But his 6-7 record and 5.29 ERA, mostly before being sidelined, reflected the fatigue he felt before his diagnosis.
That’s far in the past, especially after going out on the mound again.
“I feel great. Really strong. That’s what I’m looking forward to the rest of the season,” Carrasco said.
Francona said before the game that Carrasco looks normal to him. “The hope would be that we could treat him like Carlos Carrasco and not have to worry about other things, that’s the goal. His goal and our goal,” he said.