GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians suffered a big blow last week when they lost Mike Clevinger for six to eight weeks because of left knee surgery. Now they can breathe a sigh of relief that they’ve avoidedlosing another member of their rotation for an extended period of time.
Right-hander Carlos Carrasco sustained a mild strain of the right hip flexor while squatting during a workout on Wednesday afternoon. He walked into the clubhouse on Thursday morning using one crutch under his left arm to help take some pressure off of his right leg before he was taken for an MRI. When the Indians received his results on Friday, the club listed him as day to day.
“I mean after seeing him leave on a crutch, I think we got the best news that we could’ve hoped for,” manager Terry Francona said. “How much time he misses is basically up to how quickly that heals. We don’t know that. Or how much he can also do while he’s down.”
While it’s unknown how long Carrasco will need to get back into his regular routine, Francona said the 32-year-old hurler was already working out on the exercise bike and will advance to doing work with weighted balls in the next few days. The skipper noted that Carrasco came in feeling much better on Friday than he had the previous day.
The news is positive for the Tribe, as they attempt to keep their rotation as healthy as possible just in case Clevinger isn’t cleared by Opening Day. Clevinger’s timetable to return to Major League game activity would put him back on the mound within the first three weeks of the season. In the off chance Carrasco’s mild strain became a nagging injury that would last through the start of the season, the Indians would have to dip into their internal depth.
A rotation without Clevinger and Carrasco would likely consist of Shane Bieber, Adam Plutko, Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale, while Jefry Rodriguez, Logan Allen and Scott Moss battle for the last opening. But now that Carrasco seems to be in the clear to be available by March 26, he and Bieber will be the two locks in the rotation with the others battling for the final three spots, assuming Clevinger is still recovering.
“Well, you find out when you need it, because if you don’t have it, it hurts,” Francona said of his starting-pitching depth. “How many times have you heard me say, ‘When you think you have enough pitching, go get more.’ If you are in a situation where you have to aggravate a pitcher because you have too many good ones, that’s not the worst problem.”
Francona had just recently raved about Carrasco's physical condition when he arrived at camp last week, considering he had built himself back up after stepping away from the game for over two months due to a leukemia diagnosis last year. He returned to the Tribe in September as a reliever to carry a little bit of a lighter load, but the club knew he was ready to be plugged back into the rotation in 2020.