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Cookie, on Cleveland: 'I never felt alone'

@MandyBell02
January 12, 2021

CLEVELAND -- When Francisco Lindor addressed the New York media on Monday morning, he made sure Mets fans had the proper expectations of teammate Carlos Carrasco: “People are going to love him, for sure.” Carrasco has never had a problem becoming a fan favorite on the field or in the

CLEVELAND -- When Francisco Lindor addressed the New York media on Monday morning, he made sure Mets fans had the proper expectations of teammate Carlos Carrasco: “People are going to love him, for sure.”

Carrasco has never had a problem becoming a fan favorite on the field or in the clubhouse with his teammates. The joyful 33-year-old has always been the biggest kid in the room, on the diamond or in the dugout, which made it easy for Indians fans to fall in love with him. That also made it even more difficult to say goodbye.

Fans were prepared to watch Lindor get traded this offseason, but having Carrasco get tacked on to the deal that shipped them to the Mets on Thursday might have been an even harder pill for fans to swallow. But Carrasco said he had heard the rumors for at least four or five weeks and knew that a trade was just around the corner.

“[It was] emotional a little bit because I spent 12, 13 years [in Cleveland],” Carrasco said. “But as soon as I heard that I got traded to the New York Mets, a lot of things came to my mind. I was happy, too. My reaction was really nice. At the same time, I spent a lot of time in Cleveland, but this is part of baseball. Now, I’m part of the New York Mets. Myself, my friends, my family, we’re all really happy.”

Carrasco made his Major League debut for the Tribe on Sept. 1, 2009. Since then, he posted a 3.77 ERA in 242 games (195 starts) with a 3.42 FIP and a 10.9 strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio over 11 seasons. He made three postseason starts for Cleveland but missed the magical run in 2016 due to a broken right hand. Nonetheless, he became one of the most consistent arms the club had over the past decade.

“Carlos has developed into one of the most effective, even if underrated, starters in the American League,” Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said.

Carrasco played a key role in the Tribe’s starting rotation and in its clubhouse. Whether he was drawing faces on and dressing up baseballs or singing Justin Bieber lyrics whenever Shane Bieber walked in the room, Carrasco knew how to keep the team's mood lighthearted. It was impossible to find a player on Cleveland's roster who had anything negative to say about him, which made it even easier for the club to stand behind him when he went through his most difficult journey.

Carrasco was diagnosed with leukemia in June 2019. He stepped away from the game for two months before he began a rehab program that allowed him to return that same season as a reliever. It was an experience the right-hander credited his wife, teammates and Indians fans for helping him get through.

“My whole team was with me,” Carrasco said. “The front office, the staff, my teammates, everyone. I never felt alone.”

Even while he was going through treatments, Carrasco still found time to visit with children at the Cleveland Clinic -- one of his many frequent stops during his 11-year stay in Northeast Ohio. Carrasco’s mark will forever be left in the local community after all the charitable work he did in the Cleveland area. And before he turned the page on this chapter in his life, Carrasco did what has made him a fan favorite for so many years, turning to social media to encourage local residents to donate to the Cleveland Food Bank.

Anyone who donates will have a chance to win one of his signed Indians jerseys.

It’s gestures like those that made it so difficult for fans to stomach the idea of seeing Carrasco in another uniform, but the right-hander didn’t waste any time giving people a visual of the new reality. He wore his Mets jersey during a Tuesday afternoon Zoom call with media, ready to show support for his new team. And while this is still foreign territory for someone who has spent his 11-year big league career with one organization, Carrasco is thankful he has a little piece of Cleveland with him by having Lindor by his side moving forward.

“Just coming with Francisco Lindor is really nice,” Carrasco said. “He sent me a text. ‘Hey, we got traded to the same team. I’m really happy.’ Even this morning, he sent me a text that he’s gonna watch me on this press conference. He’s really happy to be with me. We spend a lot of time together. We talk a lot."

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