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After leukemia battle, Carrasco returns Sunday

@MandyBell02
August 28, 2019

The Indians plan to activate right-hander Carlos Carrasco from the 60-day injured list Sunday, manager Terry Francona told MLB Network Radio. The 32-year-old Carrasco has been out of Major League action since late May, when he was diagnosed with leukemia. He has made three rehab appearances so far with Double-A

The Indians plan to activate right-hander Carlos Carrasco from the 60-day injured list Sunday, manager Terry Francona told MLB Network Radio.

The 32-year-old Carrasco has been out of Major League action since late May, when he was diagnosed with leukemia. He has made three rehab appearances so far with Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus, permitting one run while striking out six hitters across 3 2/3 innings. He’ll make one final Minor League appearance Thursday and, assuming all goes well, Carrasco will join Cleveland’s bullpen Sunday as he continues to build endurance in his arm.

“The plan is to activate [Carrasco] on the first -- which is Sunday,” Francona told MLB Network Radio on Wednesday. “If all goes well tomorrow with his last bullpen outing, we’ll pitch him out of the bullpen.”

Carrasco’s return, in any capacity, could represent a morale boost for the Indians as they chase the Twins in the American League Central while also battling Tampa Bay, Oakland and Boston for the league’s Wild Card spots. Offensive superstar Jose Ramirez underwent hand surgery this week that could keep him out until the postseason, and staff ace Corey Kluber is working his way back from a left oblique strain that delayed his return to the rotation.

“When [Carrasco] started throwing bullpens, just to see his face light up and to have him in the dugout, and see our guys react to him was really cool,” said Francona. “We said, ‘If these bullpens lead to him pitching for us, that’s icing on the cake.' What’s more important in life, by a big distance, is his wellness. He seems so excited to be pitching again, and we’re excited to have him.

“He’s a big part of us. He knows that, and he knows he’s cared about. But it’s going to be fun having him back.”

Comeback trail

Aside from the plan to activate Carrasco on Sunday, the Indians are also expected to bring up Dan Otero (right shoulder inflammation) and possibly Jordan Luplow (right hamstring strain). But guys like Bradley Zimmer may not be seen with the big league club as soon as August ends.

“We can let him play as long as possible,” Francona said. “There’s some guys we’ll probably call up on the 1st, and some guys, maybe the next day. And the thought with him is, unless there’s a direct need, let him play as long as [Triple-A Columbus is] playing just because it’d be good for him.”

Zimmer hasn’t played in a Major League game since June 3, 2018, after receiving season-ending shoulder surgery last July.

Arizona Fall League

The Tribe announced Wednesday afternoon that it will have five participants in MLB’s Arizona Fall League: RHP Brock Hartson, LHP Kirk McCarty, C Gavin Collins, INF Ernie Clement and 3B Nolan Jones.

Jones is the club’s No. 1 overall prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. The 21-year-old represented his organization at the 2019 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Progressive Field. In 120 Minor League games this season -- split between Class A Advanced Lynchburg and Double-A -- he hit .273 with an .847 OPS, 14 home runs, 61 RBIs, 20 doubles and three triples.

This date in Indians history

1981: John Denny began his run of three straight shutouts, which is still the longest streak by a Tribe pitcher since the mound was lowered to its current height in 1969.

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