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Carrasco (elbow inflammation) scales back

@MandyBell02
March 7, 2020

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Carlos Carrasco already has overcome one minor bump in the road this spring, and now he’ll have to hurdle a second. Before the Indians' 8-5 loss to the Cubs on Saturday afternoon, manager Terry Francona said Carrasco’s next start will have to be bumped back a few

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Carlos Carrasco already has overcome one minor bump in the road this spring, and now he’ll have to hurdle a second.

Before the Indians' 8-5 loss to the Cubs on Saturday afternoon, manager Terry Francona said Carrasco’s next start will have to be bumped back a few days because the right-hander is dealing with mild elbow inflammation.

“Every spring after his first outing, he gets mild elbow inflammation,” Francona said. “I would call it more maintenance than anything.”

Francona didn’t seem concerned this would be problematic for the 32-year-old Carrasco, who’s anxiously waiting to get back in the Indians’ rotation after he made his last 2019 start in May before he was diagnosed in June with leukemia. Carrasco didn’t make his ’20 spring debut until Tuesday because of a minor right hip flexor strain sustained while squatting earlier in camp.

Because of his late start, both Francona and Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti agreed that Carrasco had just enough time to be ready for the first week of the regular season. Carrasco’s first spring start came on the day that marked the halfway point of camp. But Francona and Antonetti also said that if Carrasco has any other hiccups along the way, he might not have enough time to be completely built up to start by the time the team breaks camp.

Carrasco was expected to do some workouts with weighted balls and will see how his body responds. As long as he doesn’t get pushed back too far, he should still be ready before the beginning of the season. For now, he’ll remain questionable for his first outing, along with starter Mike Clevinger, who is recovering from meniscus surgery.

Francona's call to Bieber
Francona hadn’t told Shane Bieber he would be the Opening Day starter when the manager was asked about it Friday, so he tried to race to his phone to call his 24-year-old right-hander before the news reached him via social media.

“He texted me and called me, actually,” Bieber said with a slight chuckle. “But he said the whole, ‘Hey, I wanted to tell you before the media,’ but that was after I got tagged in like 10 things or whatever. I was like, ‘I don’t need that. You know I don’t need that.’ He said, ‘Yeah, well, you know that’s how it’s supposed to go.’ And I said, ‘I appreciate it. Not a big deal. But obviously excited for what’s to come.’”

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Said Francona: “He was like, ‘You didn’t have to call me.’ I was like, ‘Well, I thought it was kind of obvious. I just didn’t want you to get caught off guard.’ It was kind of funny, actually.”

Bieber went into the offseason looking to improve on his stellar sophomore campaign of 2019. In a small sample size, he has looked even better in three spring starts, tossing 7 2/3 scoreless frames with nine strikeouts.

“I think his breaking ball’s improving,” Francona said. “But I just think he’s a smart kid. This is a game of adjustments. … You either make adjustments to the league, or they make an adjustment to you. Looks like he’s good, but he’s also still making adjustments, so it’s kind of fun to watch.”

Up next
Right-hander Jefry Rodriguez will make his third start of the spring (fourth appearance) at 4:10 p.m. ET on Sunday, facing the Rockies at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale. He has allowed eight runs in 4 1/3 innings this spring. Lefty Kyle Freeland will get the ball for Colorado. The game can be heard on Gameday Audio.

Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.