CLEVELAND — Carlos Carrasco is almost ready to make his return to the Cleveland Indians.
Indians manager Terry Francona told MLB Network Radio Wednesday that Carrasco is ready to be activated from the 60-day injured list on Sunday, just three months after he was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia.
“The plan is to activate him on the first,” Francona said Wednesday. “If all goes well tomorrow with his last bullpen outing, we’ll pitch him out of the bullpen.”
Before Carrasco returns to the Indians Sunday, he is expected to pitch once more for the team’s Triple-A affiliate, the Columbus Clippers, on Thursday.
Carrasco last took the mound in a rehabilitation appearance with the Clippers last Sunday.
Carrasco allowed one hit and one run over his one-plus innings of work against the Toledo Mud Hens in Columbus. Carrasco was charged with the earned run allowed after Clippers reliever Josh D. Smith replaced him and surrendered a single to Christin Stewart in the top of the seventh inning.
Carrasco started the sixth inning and allowed one hit and struck out a batter before coming back out for the seventh frame and allowed a leadoff double to Daz Cameron on a 3-1 pitch.
Carrasco’s Triple-A appearance was his third rehabilitation outing of the week after pitching twice for the Indians’ Double-A affiliate, the Akron RubberDucks.
During his second rehabilitation appearance, Carrasco pitched the fifth inning and made it through two-thirds of the top of the sixth in Akron’s 5-4 extra-innings victory over the Richmond Flying Squirrels at Canal Park in Akron last Thursday night.
Carrasco came into the game to start the fifth inning and promptly struck out infielder Zach Houchins and outfielder Bryce Johnson, needing just four pitches to finish off the first batter and working around a three-ball count for the second punchout.
Carrasco got Richmond catcher Jin-De Jhang to fly out to center field for the final out of the fifth inning.
In the sixth inning, lead-off hitter Ryan Howard reached on a fielding error charged to Akron shortstop Ernie Clement, but Carrasco settled in and struck out outfielder Johneshwy Fargas swinging on just three pitches.
Then, Carrasco set down outfielder Heliot Ramos swinging for the second out of the inning before being pulled from the game.
Over his 2.2 innings of work in two rehab appearances this week with the RubberDucks, Carrasco recorded five strikeouts with no hits or home runs and only one walk allowed.
“When he started throwing bullpens, just to see his face light up and to have him in the dugout, and see our guys react to him was really cool,” Francona said. “We said, ‘If these bullpens lead to him pitching for us, that’s icing on the cake.’ What’s more important in life, by a big distance, is his wellness. He seems so excited to be pitching again, and we’re excited to have him.
“He’s a big part of us. He knows that, and he knows he’s cared about, but it’s going to be fun having him back.”