GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians have dodged yet another serious bullet with Carlos Carrasco this spring, but the club now may have to prepare for him to miss his first start of the year.
Carrasco had an MRI exam earlier this week, after the right-hander experienced some discomfort in his throwing elbow. The results revealed no structural damage, confirming just some mild inflammation. He received an anti-inflammatory injection and he will be shut down from throwing for the next few days.
“He feels good today,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Obviously, they go day-to-day before he starts to throw again, but he’ll begin ramping up. The hope is that this really helps a ton, and gets him going in the right direction.”
Carrasco already had a minor setback this spring when he sustained a right hip flexor strain while squatting during the second week of camp. That injury pushed his Cactus League debut back to March 3, which meant he still had three weeks left to build up his arm by Opening Day. Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said at the time that as long as Carrasco didn’t have any other hiccups along the way, he would likely be on track to make his first start of the year as scheduled. Now, this may be a big enough setback to push that first start back.
“With Carlos, we did get good news on the MRI,” Antonetti said. “But there is some inflammation in there, so we just need to try to slow that down a little bit, give him some time to be symptom-free and then ramp up his throwing from there. Given the amount of time [now] before Opening Day, it could be a stretch for him to be ready on time.”
If he’s not ready on time, the Indians will have to dip into their starting pitching depth. Shane Bieber has already been told that he’ll be the team’s Opening Day starter. Adam Plutko, Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale will be the next three in line. From there, the Tribe will have to use the remaining two weeks in Arizona to evaluate Logan Allen (Cleveland’s No. 11 prospect, per MLB Pipeline), Jefry Rodriguez and Scott Moss (No. 18 prospect) to zero in on the best candidate to replace Carrasco, if necessary.
“I think the way we feel about it is -- and this is [the same] with every player -- we want to get him healthy and not [make] an artificial deadline [of] Opening Day,” Francona said. “It just doesn’t seem to make sense. If he ends up making 34 instead of 35 starts because he was a week late, we’re gonna do the right thing, regardless. I don’t think any of us know quite yet what that is. You’ve heard me say it before: [We’ve] got to do the right thing, [and] not just when it’s convenient.”
Rainout in the desert
For the second time this spring, the Indians had to cancel a home game at Goodyear Ballpark due to inclement weather. Shane Bieber was slated to make the start, but instead threw a simulated game to make sure he stayed on pace for Opening Day.
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Cuts: Round 2
The Indians reassigned 13 players to Minor League camp Wednesday morning, including five pitchers and eight position players. Hurlers Argenis Angulo, Kyle Dowdy, Jared Robinson, Dalbert Siri and Jordan Stephens were all sent down along with catcher Gavin Collins, infielders Ernie Clement, Wilson Garcia, Nolan Jones and Tyler Krieger and outfielders Mitch Longo, Connor Marabell and Ka’ai Tom.
“It was the younger group of guys that we brought into camp to get some experience,” Francona said. “They all want to get hits. I understand that. The pitchers want to get outs. That’s not gonna define who they are. They’re gonna go play their season, but we enjoy getting to know them because that does help us.
“Now, the group that we talked to today, especially the position players, we told them, getting one at-bat for the next 11 days doesn’t help get them ready for the season. So not only do we have decisions to make, but they need to go get ready to play. And the same thing with the pitchers. Now the starters are gonna get lengthened out a little bit and these guys are gonna have a hard time finding innings.”
Adam Plutko will still get the ball in Thursday’s game against the Padres at Goodyear Ballpark, despite Wednesday’s rainout. In three spring starts, the right-hander has allowed three earned runs in seven innings with four strikeouts. Righty Zach Davies will get the nod for San Diego. First pitch is slated for 4:05 p.m. ET.