Carlos Carrasco arrived at Mets camp on Thursday hoping his elbow would be healthy enough to keep him off the injured list to open the season. The right-hander departed with a different injury and far grimmer news. Carrasco tore his right hamstring running sprints on the field, according to multiple sources, one of which said he expected Carrasco to miss six to eight weeks.
“It’s devastating, man,” teammate Marcus Stroman said. “I see how hard Carrasco works, and, obviously, we need him in the rotation, I think, to be elite. I want him in the rotation badly. I know how special he is. I know how great he’s been for his career. So I’m hoping that … he proceeds through this and we can get him back fairly early.”
Carrasco, 33, spent most of early March battling right elbow soreness, which neither he nor the Mets considered serious enough to knock him off the Opening Day roster. As recently as Thursday morning, manager Luis Rojas said he expected Carrasco to be ready for his first rotation turn in April. But after Carrasco threw a live batting practice session at Clover Park in Port St. Lucie, Fla., he tore his hamstring during routine conditioning drills.
An MRI later revealed the extent of the tear, which will keep Carrasco sidelined until late April or May. One source cautioned that “these types of injuries can’t be rushed,” noting that Carrasco most proceed carefully to avoid setbacks.
The question now becomes who will replace him in the rotation. The Mets have three locks in Jacob deGrom, Stroman and Taijuan Walker. Given Carrasco’s status, David Peterson is a strong bet to join those three, with Joey Lucchesi and Jordan Yamamoto competing for the final slot. In addition to those two, Corey Oswalt has impressed Rojas with five strikeouts over two Grapefruit League innings. The Mets are also in the process of stretching out former Mariners, Cubs and Royals starter Mike Montgomery, who could serve in multiple roles this season.
“I definitely think that if there’s a team that can put up with having a few starters out for a bit, it’s us,” Stroman said. “We have so much depth, guys who have done it at the big league level for so long -- Yamamoto, Lucchesi, Peterson. Those guys are great, man. Those guys can be [No.] 3s, 4s and 5s in other rotations in the big leagues.
“So we have the utmost confidence in every single one of those guys to come in and do their job, and, obviously, we’ll be waiting for Carrasco to get back, because he’s a huge plus to our staff.”
Carrasco reported late to his first Mets camp to undergo additional medical screening because of his health history, which includes a 2019 leukemia diagnosis and additional heart issues. His status for Opening Day did not come into question until he began experiencing elbow soreness, which he considered routine, in early March. The Mets believed he could overcome that until his hamstring strain complicated the situation.
The Mets acquired Carrasco on Jan. 7 in the six-player deal that also brought shortstop Francisco Lindor from Cleveland to New York. Over 11 seasons with the Indians, Carrasco went 88-73 with a 3.77 ERA.