CLEVELAND -- When Indians starter Carlos Carrasco was diagnosed with cancer in the middle of the 2019 season, he stepped away from the game, but did not stop visiting the pediatric cancer wing in local hospitals. Though he was expected to bring hope and smiles to the kids’ faces, he said he always felt like they ended up helping and inspiring him even more. And despite the COVID-19 restrictions this year, Carrasco is still finding ways to visit with kids with cancer.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and in order for Major League Baseball and its clubs to help bring attention to the cause, all players, coaches, umpires and managers will wear gold ribbon decals and wristbands during all games on Saturday. MLB’s “Childhood Cancer Awareness Day,” in collaboration with Stand Up To Cancer, will combine a visual and ceremonial demonstration of support for the cause with outreach to local hospitals treating young patients in their communities.
The Indians are one of 15 teams that will be donating baseball-themed Starlight hospital gowns to the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital, and Carrasco is taking it upon himself to make that donation even sweeter.
The chronic myeloid leukemia survivor will be meeting virtually with the patients of Cleveland Clinic Children who will be receiving the Starlight gowns. But Carrasco, the 2019 Roberto Clemente recipient, has had a focus on kids with cancer long before he was diagnosed with leukemia in June '19. For him, it started with a visit to a local hospital in '14.
“I took my daughter and everything started from there,” Carrasco said last year. “We saw a couple kids with cancer and they started losing their hair and everything like that. When I went back home, I saw my daughter with scissors and she cut her hair and she told me 'Just give it to the kids,' after what she saw in the hospital. My wife was looking at me and we almost started crying in front of my daughter.”
Though the players will only be sporting the ribbons on their jerseys on Saturday, the work in the communities is not limited to just one day. Carrasco, along with a handful of others within the organization, attempt to visit and connect with pediatric cancer patients and bring awareness to their battles all year long.
“Pretty much I wanted to go there every day [in 2019], but I had to go to the stadium to do my stuff,” Carrasco said. “But I love to do that and just to bring a smile to the kids, it made me happy.”
Indians center fielder Delino DeShields was pulled from Friday night’s game with a right shoulder contusion that he suffered while crashing into the wall in Kansas City on Wednesday evening. He attempted to play through the pain, but realized he couldn’t continue. The Tribe expects him to miss the next few games.
“We’ll see how he feels in a few days,” Indians temporary manager Sandy Alomar Jr. said. “He’s able to hit, but he’s not able to throw without pain, so we have [Oscar] Mercado ready to roll and he should get his opportunity out there today -- the next couple of days, I should say.”
Pérez still expected to be back Sunday
Indians catcher Roberto Pérez has also been sidelined the past two days after getting removed from Wednesday’s game in Kansas City with right shoulder fatigue. The backstop recovered from a right shoulder strain earlier this year, but claimed this discomfort was much different. After sitting out on Friday and Saturday, the team expects him to be back in the lineup for Sunday’s series finale against the Brewers.