PEORIA, Ariz. -- In his first start of the spring, Carlos Carrasco felt strange seeing some familiar faces stepping into the batter’s box sporting Mariners uniforms.
In Cleveland’s 16-2 victory over Seattle at Peoria Stadium on Sunday afternoon, Carrasco allowed two runs on three hits, including two homers, and fanned four batters over three innings. Outside of the two fastballs that he left over the plate that resulted in the two long balls, Carrasco was pleased with his first outing.
“I’m pitching like I’d pitch in a [real game],” Carrasco said. “But I’m just looking for something with my mechanics, just trying to stay back a little bit longer. … The two homers, they were just a fastball right in the middle. But at least I got to work on something that I’m looking for.”
“I thought he handled himself really well,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “For his first time in a Major League game, he left one pitch over the middle, but other than that I thought he was really good.”
Two of Carrasco's strikeout victims were former teammates Edwin Encarnacion, who was traded to Seattle in a three-team deal that shipped Carlos Santana back to Cleveland, and Jay Bruce, who was also responsible for one of the two homers.
“Yeah it was really, really weird,” Carrasco said. “Before the game, Bruce told me, ‘Miss you guys.’ To get that message from him means a lot to us. He played good for us, too, here.”
The Indians paced Carrasco this spring, keeping him in simulated games to control the intensity of his outings, along with Corey Kluber, until he reached 50 pitches. When Carrasco was warming up in the bullpen prior to the game, Carrasco said it felt a little weird at first to be back in a real-game setting, but he was able to settle in once he took the rubber.
“Yeah, I like that,” Carrasco said of starting games a little bit later into Spring Training. “I’ve got to get all my innings. The next time out, I’m going to go four, and then I’ll have like three more [starts] before the season starts. That’s a normal way to do it. I feel good.”
The Indians have now seen four of their five starters in game action, and all have shown promising signs of just how dominant their rotation could be.
“We look great. [Shane] Bieber, [Mike] Clevinger, myself, Kluber, all those guys, even [Trevor] Bauer. Bauer is great,” Carrasco said. “But I think we’re still the same guys, we have fun, we go out there and pitch, but we’re one of the best starting rotations in baseball. It’s no secret from anyone. We’ve been proving it for the last three years.”
Mercado stays hot
Francona is not one to look at stats when evaluating his players during Spring Training, but Oscar Mercado’s are jumping off the paper. The club's No. 19 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, continued his hot streak at the plate, going 3-for-3 on Sunday with a home run and three RBIs. The 24-year-old is now hitting .444 through 14 games with eight RBIs and five homers.
“Boy, he sure is [fun],” Francona said. “You know, he put a lot of work in when he came over here with some of the guys on the player development side. My goodness, he’s really giving himself a chance because he’s so athletic to begin with, but when it starts carrying over to the batter’s box, man, that’s fun to watch.”
Clippard optimistic on pectoral tightness
Francona said that right-hander Tyler Clippard came into the facility Sunday morning feeling better than he did when he was pulled out of Saturday’s 7-1 victory over the Rockies with right pectoral tightness. The 34-year-old will still need to work with trainers on receiving the correct treatment to make sure he does not injure himself further.
“There is no timetable or anything like that,” Francona said. “But I still think it’s better news than him coming in going, ‘Man, it really hurts like heck and I can’t move.’”
Kluber will make his spring debut for the Indians on Monday at Goodyear Ballpark. The Tribe will host the Reds at 4:05 p.m. ET. Right-hander Anthony DeSclafani will get the start for Cincinnati.