In 2004, Carrasco pitched a no-hitter against the Gulf Coast Rookie League Tigers in one of his eight starts.
In 2005, Baseball America rated Carrasco as 8th-best prospect in the Phillie farm system. Before 2006 spring training, they rated Carlos as 16th-best prospect in the Phillies organization. During the winter before 2007 spring camp opened, the magazine had Carrasco as the #1 prospect in the Phillies farm system.
And in the winter before 2008 spring training, they again placed Carrasco as the top prospect in the Phillies organization. Then, in the offseason before 2009 spring training, he was at second best in the Phillies farm system, behind only outfielder Dominic Brown. They had Carrasco as 7th-best prospect in the Indians farm system in the winter before 2010 spring training.
Carlos is smart and responds well to instruction, applying what he has been taught.
August 13, 2006: Carrasco and Andy Barb combined for the first nine-inning no-hitter in low the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws' history. Carlos allowed one run on five walks while striking out nine over seven innings against Lexington. Then he handed off to Barb, who didn't realize that his 18th save of the season would be his most special.
"I didn't know Carlos hadn't given up a hit. I just knew we were up by a run and I had to bear down," Barb said.
The 21-year-old Barb, a 2003 draft-and-follow out of Kirkwood Community College in Iowa, struck out three over two perfect innings to secure the no-hitter.
August 2007: Carlos pitched a six-inning no-hitter against Altoona Curve (EL-Pirates) for the Reading Phillies.
Carlos has a grasp of the English language, enabling him to received instruction better. He always was coachable, applying information when he understood it. And he has matured both on and off the mound.
March 4, 2011: Carlos went home to Florida to be with wife Karelis for the birth of their first child, daughter Camila.
- April 12, 2013: Major League Baseball slapped Carrasco with an eight-game suspension for hitting Yankees third baseman Kevin Youkilis with a pitch in a 14-1 loss in Cleveland. Carrasco appealed the suspension with the help of the MLB Players Association.
Carrasco, who also received an undisclosed fine, is currently with Triple-A Columbus, putting the Tribe in the same position as on Opening Day. Calling him up from the Minor Leagues is now more complicated, given the need to have him serve the suspension upon promotion.
"We obviously worked pretty hard to try to have his prior suspension not be an issue," Indians GM Chris Antonetti said. "Obviously, when he returns at the Major League level, we'll have to deal with it again."
Carlos was on the roster of the 2006, 2007, and 2008 All-Star Futures Games.
Carlos does what he can to clear his mind when he takes the mound for the Indians.
"When I cross the lines," Carrasco said. "I focus on my job out there."
Before he pitches, it is a different story. "I try to have fun before the game," he said with a grin.
Before one start in May 2015, Carrasco decided to pull a prank on reliever Marc Rzepczynski. The big righty found a cockroach outside, brought it into the visitors' clubhouse, and put it in one of his teammates' shoes. There were plenty of laughs in the room as Rzepczynski chased down Carrasco and made him get rid of the bug.
Why Rzepczynski? "He's afraid of everything," Carrasco said.
After the win, Rzepczynski rolled his eyes as the starter's comments. "Everybody's got to have a guy on the team [to torture]," he quipped. "That's me."
When Carrasco crossed the chalk line, he turned his attention to aggravating his opponents. (Bastian - mlb.com - 5/6/15).
Dec 23, 2016: While Carlos watches his children open presents this Christmas, there will be hundreds of others enjoying gifts on behalf of the Indians pitcher. In fact, Carrasco's kids were a part of the process, as their home in Tampa, Fla., was transformed into a makeshift toy store in recent weeks.
The Carrasco home became the headquarters for a toy drive that he helped organize through his foundation, with more than a thousand items collected by his count. They were then packed, with the help of his two sons and two daughters, and shipped to kids in Carrasco's home country in Venezuela. It is just one of many charitable initiatives that the Cleveland starter has taken on in the past year.
Carrasco laughed when asked if he had to tell his children not to play with the presents.
"They don't open them," Carrasco said. "They understand. I've talked to my kids about it. They've helped me pack the boxes."
In a video posted on Carrasco's Instagram page, his 5-year-old daughter, Camila, shows off a pile of Mickey Mouse stuffed dolls, packages of toothpaste and a box filled with more items. That was December's project. Throughout October and into November, while the Indians played deep into the postseason, Carrasco's house was also used for the collection of medical supplies to be sent to his home country.
Carrasco started two foundations in 2016. The Carlos Carrasco Foundation in the United States is focused on early-childhood education. Due to Carrasco's desire to do his part to help with the ongoing economic crisis in Venezuela, he also started a foundation in his native country. That way, he could partner with groups there to find avenues to distribute the toys, medical supplies and other goods.
"It's not easy right now there," Carrasco said. "Everyone knows what's happening in Venezuela. It's sad. And that's what we need the most. We need medical supplies. The hospitals have some stuff, but they need more. Many families have had to bring everything to the hospital with them so they can get attention. So, my wife and I thought about it and we said, 'Let's do something.'"
Through his foundation, and other groups assisting as well, Carrasco estimated that he has accumulated more than $500,000 worth of medical supplies, which will help health centers in roughly a dozen Venezuelan states. The pitcher is hoping to obtain more, too. He has also sent 1,000 blue backpacks for kids to use in Venezuelan schools. Carrasco added that he has 200 baseball gloves at his home that will be sent to the country, too. Seeing the opportunities his career has provided for his own children, Carrasco said he feels compelled to help others.
"It's really important," Carrasco said. "I had people who helped me. Now that I have my family, that I have my own kids, I see how it's really important to help. So, that's what I want to do." (J Bastian - MLB.cxom - Dec 23, 2016)
January 2017: Carlos committed to play for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.
Carrasco shared his life story from how he first fell in love with baseball as a kid to leaving Venezuela for the U.S. for the first time to becoming an American citizen with The Players’ Tribune. One of the main parts is about how Carrasco struggled with learning English. He says he didn’t know any at all prior to joining the Phillies in 2004.
Carrasco says it took a week before he figured out how to buy a calling card to talk to his mom back home in Venezuela, and he mentions this quirky detail about his diet consisting of pizza and only pizza.
"During my first spring training, I ate Domino’s pizza every day for dinner. I’m not exaggerating. I had Domino’s every … single … day. It was the only thing I knew how to order. So for 90 days, I ate pizza. I ordered it so much that the Domino’s near our facility ended up giving me one month of free pizza as a reward for being their best customer.
"Aside from eating pizza and playing baseball, I didn’t do very much, though. For those first few years in the U.S., I didn’t really talk to many of my teammates. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I didn’t know how. Fortunately, it got better for Carrasco. When he was traded to the Indians in 2009, he decided to make a real effort to communicate with his teammates and the media.
He really wanted to learn English, and he did, becoming a U.S. citizen in August 2016, which he also details in his story. Now, he says, Cleveland and America feel like home. (Alysha Tsuji - USA Today - March 21, 2017)
Dec 21, 2018: A young Carlos spent each Christmas Eve writing the perfect letter to place under the tree so that Santa could find the wish list overnight. The following morning was filled with excitement, as Carrasco would race to the tree to see his desired toy sitting where he placed the note just hours prior. Christmas morning can be one of the most exciting times of the year for young children. But it didn't take Carrasco long to realize that not everyone was fortunate enough to celebrate the holiday by opening presents. Growing up, the Indians pitcher said he noticed a lot of people who would go out of their way to help children at all times of the year, and he made it his goal to do the same.
Although his work is done year-round, the holiday season holds a special place in Carrasco's heart. Through his Carlos "Cookie" Carrasco Children's Foundation, the hurler ships toys to areas in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic to help brighten families' holidays. "I really like [to help during] the holidays, because I know that there are children who do not get toys," Carrasco said. "That's why we're there." Many of the gifts have already been sent, and almost all of the remaining toys will reach their destinations before Christmas Day. Carrasco has provided families with holiday gifts for the last few years and said he will never forget seeing the kids' faces for the first time. "I still have pictures from last year in Venezuela," Carrasco said. "A lot of the children are on the streets, so just to see their smiles is incredible."
Carrasco's work in the community stretches far beyond the final page of the calendar. He and his wife have traveled the globe to help children in need. This past November 2018, the couple was in Africa delivering clothes and backpacks so that kids have an easier time going to school, after having done the same in India the year before. Over Thanksgiving, the Carrasco family delivered 75 plates of food to the homeless in downtown Tampa. "Those people don't have anything to eat," Carrasco said. "Just to give them their food and, like I said before, the same way it is for kids, just bringing smiles and happiness made me feel great. I like to do it. I never get [tired] of doing it."
Besides the joy of helping people in need, what's most meaningful to Carrasco is sharing these experiences with his children. He wants to make sure his kids see and understand how important giving back to their community is and hopes they will do the same as they grow older. Although she may only be 7 years old, his daughter, Camila, seems to have wasted no time following in her father's footsteps. "Something I remember is [two years ago] I was looking for Camila around the house and couldn't find her," Carrasco said. "She was in her bedroom cutting her hair and I looked at her and said, 'What are you doing? Why are you cutting your hair?' She said, 'I'm doing it so you can send it to the kids in Venezuela or wherever for cancer and all of that.' That made me cry."
Camila and her younger sister, Emma, 3, helped shop for the toys and load up the backpacks that were to be sent out to the other countries. Carrasco said Camila even took it upon herself to make a video, which he thought was "something unbelievable."
Carrasco said he's looking forward to having his extended family in town over the holidays to have more hands to help pass out food to the homeless near his home in Florida. The pitcher said he does not have to wait until a special time of year to help those around him. But, thanks to him and his family, more children in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic will have a present under their tree in place of their Christmas Eve letters. (M Bell - MLB.com - Dec 21, 2018)
July 5, 2019: Carlos told television network CDN 37 in the Dominican Republic that he has leukemia.
“At the end of May, they shut me down because they saw something wrong with my blood," Carrasco said in Spanish on CDN 37. "The doctors got a little worried and they sent me for a blood test, another blood test. The blood levels were off, the platelets were really high. The following week, my wife and I went to the hospital, and they told us I have leukemia. That’s one of the reasons why I’m not playing right now, but I’ll be back at the end of July.”
Carrasco, however, did not specify if his return at the end of July would be back with the big league club or the start of a rehab assignment.
“There’s nothing that came out that we didn’t know,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “We’re not putting any timetables. I don’t think that’s fair to anybody. Carlos will make his thoughts known. I think our organization’s good about that; in fact, I know they are. And if you’ve got to be sick, being in the Cleveland clinic is a pretty darn good place to be. I witnessed myself. The care you get there goes above and beyond. Our players know that too.”
The Indians announced in early June that Carrasco, 32, had been feeling lethargic and was taking a leave of absence from the club after being diagnosed with a blood condition. The Indians said he would be "stepping away from baseball activities to explore the optimal treatment and recovery options."
Leukemia, a form of cancer that affects blood and bone marrow, is a broad term that encompasses a wide variety of types of the disease, many of which are highly treatable. It is not known what type Carrasco is fighting.
Carrasco is in his 10th Major League season, and has spent his entire big league career with the Indians. In 12 starts this season prior to the diagnosis, he posted a 4.98 ERA, including a shutout and a 7.2 strikeout-to-walk rate. His finest season came in 2017, when he posted 18 wins, a 3.29 ERA in 32 starts and a career-high 200 innings.
From 2015, when he became a full-time starter, through 2018, Carrasco had a 3.12 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and a 28% strikeout rate. (M Bell - MLB.com - June 6, 2019)
“You have cancer.”
No matter what form or what stage, that sentence is one that would make anyone’s blood run cold. Carlos never expected to be diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, like many other patients who are blindsided with the gut-wrenching news. But despite having to fight a battle he never wanted to enter, not once has he asked himself, "Why me?"
“I’m not that kind of person,” Carrasco said. “If it’s happened, it’s for a reason. I cannot control that.”
Carrasco has been trying to focus solely on the things he can control since having to step away from the game. He was placed on the injured list on June 5 with a blood condition, but the news of his diagnosis was learned by his teammates the day prior. Indians manager Terry Francona had called a meeting in the clubhouse, Carrasco included, to explain the hurler’s situation. Since then, they’ve made sure to prove to him that he’s not alone in his fight.
“You know what, they’ve been respectful,” Carrasco said. “They respect what happened. When they found out, they [acted] like the same teammates as before. There’s nothing different. I think everyone’s getting stronger than ever.”
They all say they’re playing for Cookie. “To hear that, it made me really happy because they've always been there, too,” Carrasco said. “Everyone from the team, if I could show you, I had like 300, maybe 500 texts from them every day, [asking] how did I feel. They [are] special to me. They feel like home. They feel like family.”
In his time away from the game, Carrasco has been visiting children in the pediatric cancer wing of the Cleveland Clinic.
“You know, I think it’s great, just to go there and visit kids and have a different day,” Carrasco said. “You don’t want to spend a lot of time in the hospital. I’m pretty sure those kids, they are spending a lot of time there. Just to go there and have some fun and just think about some different stuff and talk to them about baseball, I think that’s great. It’s something that I love to do, that I’ve been doing for the last four or five years. I think it’s most important to go there to make those kids smile, and it makes me happy.” (Bell - mlb.com - 7/12/19)
Sept 3, 2019: No matter how moving his first outing was, Carrasco was more excited to take the mound in front of his fans at Progressive Field. But it quickly made for an awkward mix of emotions, rather than a touching return home. The Indians had just taken a three-run lead against the White Sox. It was setting up for a perfect ending for the Carrasco comeback story, as he was making the transition to conclude the feel-good narrative and get back to normalcy, being viewed as just another weapon in the Tribe’s bullpen.
The ballpark had fallen completely silent as each head turned toward the door in the right-center-field wall to see if Carrasco was making his way out of the bullpen. The video board went black for a few seconds before it showed him walking down the steps toward the outfield grass. The first notes of Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ‘69” boomed throughout Progressive Field and the 17,397 fans erupted in cheers as they all rose to their feet.
He ran across the outfield grass in the sixth, as the crowd at Canal Park rose to its collective feet to honor Carrasco’s incredible journey back to the mound in just over two months. He may have been full of nerves, but when he released the ball from his hand, everything went away. He turned around to look at the radar gun after pitch No. 1: 97 mph.
“It was surprising for us,” Willis said. “We were actually surprised in his bullpen sessions. He was consistently 90-92 [mph], the action on his secondary pitches were normal, really as good as we’ve seen. We were excited about that to see it bump up as it did.”
“It’s really nice,” Wittgren said. “I mean, he’d automatically be the hardest thrower in the bullpen right now.”
After three more Minor League relief outings, Carrasco was activated from the injured list on Sept. 1 and experienced the same nerves waiting in the bullpen in Tampa Bay as he did in Akron.
“When they told me, ‘Get ready, you’ve got the next inning,’ I just started like, ‘Oh my God,’” Carrasco said. “I couldn’t control myself. But like I said, as soon as I released the first pitch, everything went away.”
In his emotional return to a big league rubber, the righty averaged 94.8 mph (maxing out at 96.3) on his four-seamer—the exact velocity that he averaged in the first inning of his final three starts prior to his diagnosis.
“I thought he threw the ball really well,” Francona said. “His heart was probably racing, I’m guessing. I’m sure it was pretty emotional for Carlos.”
“That was great, all the fans right there,” Carrasco said. “As soon as I started running down to the mound. That was great, it was unbelievable.”
"I thought it was outstanding,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “Even our guys were applauding. Listen, you know what? When you realize there are things that are certainly more important than what we do, and for him coming back this year after having been diagnosed and getting treated and having gone through everything, God bless him. Good for him."
For the first time since May 25, Carrasco was back on the mound in Cleveland on Sept. 3, 2019. He jogged out to a welcoming ovation at the beginning of the eighth inning as the video board flashed “Carrasco” in big letters. When he looked slightly to his right, he saw sections of people behind the Indians’ dugout holding up cut-out pictures of his face.
“I didn’t see him come in at first,” Clevinger said. “Then I saw him come out, so I ran back out to the top step and it was another one of those get the chills kind of moments. I was just happy to see him back out there.”
But the fairytale ending wasn’t in the cards.
Carrasco gave up back-to-back singles to lead off the inning, but settled back in to strike out the next two batters that he faced. He just couldn’t hold on long enough to escape unscathed, hanging a breaking ball to James McCann, who crushed it for a game-tying, three-run homer. Eloy Jimenez followed in the next at-bat with a solo shot of his own to provide the final margin in the Indians' 6-5 loss before Carrasco recorded the final out.
The moment that Carrasco walked off the field, having just blown his team’s lead, was the epitome of the 32-year-old’s battle over the last three months. He has said it time and time again: The support of his fans, teammates and family has carried him through one of the lowest and toughest points in his life. And while he couldn’t close this chapter with a happily ever after, it was the fans who were there, once again, to lift him up.
Carrasco walked off the mound, visibly disappointed with his performance, looking straight down to the ground from his walk from the mound to the dugout. But as he felt the weight of the loss fall squarely on his shoulders, the crowd was there to lift him up, giving him another roaring ovation in honor of his incredible return to the game while battling such a vicious illness.
“It was great to see those fans giving the support,” Carrasco said.
As if he hasn’t proven it enough over the last few months, it’s going to take more than one rough night to get this Cookie to crumble. (M Bell - MLB.com - Sept 3, 2019)
Oct 25, 2019: Long before Carrasco's own leukemia diagnosis, before we all saw those photos and videos of him visiting with kids dealing with similar conditions, before his rousing return to the Major League mound, before he was selected as the 2019 winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, there were the scissors in the hand of young Camila Carrasco.
Camila is turning 9 soon, but she was just 4 years old that day in 2014 when she held the shears near her flowing locks and began to snip. She asked her dad—sweetly, innocently, and instinctively, without any real understanding of what cancer is—if she could give her hair to the kids she had seen at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital who were losing theirs. Carrasco had always contributed to the community and understood the opportunity that came with his position as a pro athlete. But that was the day that inspired him to do more.
“Everything,” he said, “started with my daughter.”
It led Carrasco here, to Game 3 of the World Series at Nationals Park, where he was honored on the field pregame by Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred for his many charitable efforts both stateside and in his native Venezuela. It’s a fitting cap to an emotional 2019 season in which Carrasco was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and put in the difficult work to make a return to the Tribe's pitching staff amid his treatment, all while continuing to give his time, attention and financial assistance to young leukemia patients.
Indians teammates had long affectionately referred to Carrasco as “Cookie” because of his affinity for the sweet treats. But in 2019, they learned how tough that cookie really is.
“He took a situation where, rather than feeling sorry for himself, he used his ability to reach out to people and lift them up,” Tribe manager Terry Francona said. “That’s pretty incredible.”
Carrasco, 32, wasn’t totally comfortable with the attention the Clemente Award. Or any of this type of situation, which included a stirring Stand Up To Cancer moment at the All-Star Game at Progressive Field. In fact, the full extent of his charitable efforts went unreported for years.
But the Clemente honor, named for a man whose efforts as a philanthropist and teacher exceeded the value even of his Hall of Fame output as a player, is not given just to pat somebody on the back. It is given to inspire and remind us—athletes and otherwise—that we can all do more, give more, be more.
That’s what happened for Carrasco when his daughter cut her hair, and that’s what he hopes his own Clemente salute does for others.
“Just take my name off of this if I start doing stuff for awards,” he said. “This is [meant to be] a great example of what people can do.”
The Roberto Clemente Award is presented annually to a Major League player who best represents the game through character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, on and off the field. One nominee is selected from each of the 30 clubs, and a panel that includes Manfred, Clemente's widow Vera, representatives from MLB-affiliated networks (MLB Network, FOX Sports, ESPN and TBS), MLB.com and others, along with an online polling of fans, selects the winner. Carrasco is the first Indians player since Jim Thome in 2002 to receive the honor.
“This award is the most important individual player award due to the genuine impact that Major League Players have on those who are most in need,” Manfred said in a release. “Carlos, through his global philanthropic efforts, is an excellent example of someone who selflessly acts on behalf of the less fortunate and embodies the spirit of our game’s most celebrated humanitarian.”
Added Vera Clemente: “Despite facing his own personal challenges, Carlos has remained committed to improving the lives of others.”
The level of commitment to charity that Carrasco and his family have demonstrated is overwhelming.
Every other Sunday in the offseason, Carlos and his wife Kerry cook, box, and distribute 500 lunches to the homeless from the front porch of their Tampa, Fla., home. They donate two scholarships of $10,000 annually for single moms to attend school. They sent $5,000 to U.S. veterans.
Carrasco regularly reads to students at Cleveland Stepstone Academy’s “Carlos Carrasco Major League Reading Corner.” He has distributed shoes, shirts and backpacks to underprivileged children in Africa and donated more than $70,000 to families in need in African villages. This past May, Carrasco donated $300,000 to Casa Venezuela Cúcuta in Colombia. And in his home country, which has been embroiled in political crisis to the point of international emergency, he has donated tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of food, medicine, medical supplies, diapers, etc. Carrasco donates $400 per day and $200 per month to cover the cost of a refugee camp at the Colombian/Venezuelan border, where his extended family distributes meals daily.
All of the above comes in addition to the pediatric hospital visits that reverberated on social media in the wake of Carrasco’s diagnosis. He went room-to-room at Cleveland Clinic Children’s to spend time with patients, and he signed autographs and handed out bobbleheads. And for Carrasco, those visits—intended to inspire kids—had the effect of helping him deal with his own jarring medical challenge.
“There was one kid who told me, ‘If I can do it, you can do it, too. This is nothing for you,’” Carrasco recalled. “I came there to give inspiration. But to hear that from that kid was unbelievable. And you know what? I think [the leukemia diagnosis] happened for a reason. It’s made me closer to those kids who need help.”
And of course, the cancer diagnosis and treatment has given Carrasco a fresh perspective on baseball. But that didn’t mean totally putting the game on the backburner. Leukemia temporarily sapped Carrasco’s fastball and his strength, but it also made him yearn to compete all the more. So as soon as he got the clearance to return to baseball activity, he attacked it sensibly but aggressively. Carrasco left the Indians to get the medical help he needed in early June and was back with them within three months. For each of his strikeouts, he pledged $200 toward childhood cancer research, and the Indians sold “I Stand For Cookie” T-shirts to raise money for the same cause.
Understandably, Carrasco’s baseball return wasn’t always smooth sailing, and he had to pitch out of the bullpen, rather than the rotation, because of all the time he had missed. But he went into the offseason feeling good about his prospects for 2020.
“What he went through was beyond baseball,” Francona said. “But then, once baseball starts, you’ve got to try to draw a line, and it’s very difficult. Not only all the emotional and physical things he was going through, there’s just the fact that he hadn’t pitched in a competitive atmosphere. So he was fighting a lot. I don’t doubt that it was very difficult for him. But I think coming back, in a number of ways, will be really beneficial going into next year.”
Carrasco wants to keep his current treatment plan private, but he also wants it known that he is fine. He continues to run and throw and prepare himself for Spring Training.
In the meantime, Carrasco got his moment on this World Series stage. It was a moment to bask in adulation for a job well done. But more importantly, for him, it was a moment to shine a light on the good a person can do for others.
It’s the message Carrasco’s own daughter, scissors in hand, once delivered to him. (A Castrovince - MLB.com - Oct 25, 2019)
September 2019: Carlos was visibly emotional when he first returned to the mound in a relief appearance after a leukemia diagnosis caused him to miss the previous three months. He fully expects his first start in front of a home crowd to be even more magical.
In 2019, Carrasco won the Roberto Clemente Award.
In 2019, Major League Baseball awarded Carrasco the AL Comeback Player of the Year Award.
Carrasco’s first outing got pushed back after he sustained a mild right hip flexor strain on Feb. 19, but he said he finally started to feel pain-free recently. Even though there are only three weeks remaining in Spring Training, he was confident that he still has enough time left to be ready by Opening Day.
“That part was emotional for me because the last time that I started a game was in May,” Carrasco said. “So just getting to this point, I feel happy. I think everything came out really good, even my mechanics.”
When March 26 comes, Carrasco will be ready to put everything about last year’s journey in the rearview mirror. He doesn’t want to have to reflect on his illness every time he does or tries something new. But he surely won’t forget just how grateful he is to be back on the mound. Just to serve as a little reminder, he had a special moment from last season etched into his glove so that he can carry it with him moving forward. In his last appearance at home last year, Carlos entered in the 5th with a runner on third. He needed a double-play and that’s what he got. It was a special moment for him after he stepped away for 3 months to battle leukemia, so he had that moment stamped in his glove:
“I was trying to get a ground ball and that’s what I did,” Carrasco said. “And it was one of the moments that I feel, ‘This is going on my glove.’”
As he stared down at the center of his glove just beyond the right-field fence after the game, he allowed himself to think back on the past 10 months another time.
It was May when he and his teammates started to realize his velocity would dip as he’d get deeper into his outings, and no one knew why. On June 4, he then broke the news to everyone in the clubhouse that he had been diagnosed with leukemia and would need to step away from the game for the unforeseeable future.
Over the next three months, the illness would cause him to feel extremely sick. He lost 18 pounds and he worried whether he could get back on the mound again before the season ended. To keep his mind from racing, he spent time with children in hospitals and giving back to his community.
“I wanted to do something different,” Carrasco said. “I didn’t want to be home just thinking about it. We are human beings and when something really bad happens, we think about it a lot. A lot. I don’t want to be one of those guys who goes home and feels sick. I’m just gonna go out there, do my same thing I’ve been doing. I actually went to the stadium to do all my workouts and everything, trying to think about doing something different. When I go back home, I have my family there, so I don’t have time to think about it. That helped.”
But now, baseball no longer has to be a distraction; it can simply be his job. In just a few short weeks, Carrasco will come out of the Indians' dugout to take the mound at Progressive Field with “Summer of ‘69” booming over the loudspeakers and a roaring ovation from the home crowd. It’ll be then that Carrasco can take one last moment to reflect on his roller coaster of a year before beginning a new chapter with a clean bill of health in 2020.
“It’s going to be unbelievable that day,” Carrasco said. “I did it last year, but it was out of the bullpen. But now that I’ve been pitching in the rotation, it’s going to be completely different, and I can’t wait for that moment.” (M Bell - MLB.com - March 3, 2020)
July 26, 2020: Even when Carlos made his emotional return to the mound as a reliever in September 2019, after having to step away from the game for three months to battle leukemia, he knew that his first start would be even sweeter.
It’s been 423 days since Carrasco last toed the rubber in a Major League game as a starter, but the 33-year-old couldn’t have looked more at home. In six-plus stellar frames, the righty allowed two runs on five hits with one walk and 10 strikeouts, leading the Indians—with the help of two José Ramírez homers—to a 9-2 victory over the Royals at Progressive Field.
“My emotions were really strong today, because pretty much, you guys know, my last start was May 30, 2019,” Carrasco said. “So, I’ve just waited for this moment today. … Keeping my emotions down and just thinking about the way I’m going to pitch was the key today, because just getting here to the stadium this morning, I was so happy to getting back to the rotation.” (Bell - mlb.com - 7/27/2020)
In 2020, Carrasco was named the AL Comeback Player of the Year by Sporting News.
2020 Season: Carlos made the same number of starts in 2020 as he did in 2019, but for very obvious reason she was much more effective this time around. With his battle with leukemia hopefully in the rearview mirror, the Indians’ longest-tenured player quietly turned in one of his best seasons ever while his fellow pitchers garnered attention for either being great or making stupid off-field decisions.
It’s true that Carrasco was no Shane Bieber — because no one was — but he finished the year with a 29.3% strikeout rate and career-bests 63 ERA- and 2.91 ERA. His walk rate was up a bit (9.6% compared to 6.3% career), but if anybody ever deserves the benefit of a little bit of BABIP luck, it’s Carlos Carrasco. He got it with a .392 BABIP against, one of his lowest ever, and an additional boost from a career-high 85.2% strand rate.
For the most part, you could set your clock by Carrasco going six innings and not allowing many runs in 2020. There were almost no meltdowns all season — he finished all but three of his 12 starts with at least 6.0 innings pitched and only once he allowed more than three runs. That one bad outing came against the Tigers on Aug. 23, when he allowed four runs, two homers, and only struck out four over 3.1 innings. It was his closest outing to a clunker in a weird series where the Tigers broke their year-long losing streak to the Tribe and suddenly remembered how to hit. For Cookie it was hardly a blip.
Carrasco struck out double-digit batters “only” twice, which isn’t a terrible ratio in 12 starts, but one of the reasons he flew so far under the radar. While teammates Shane Bieber, James Karinchak, and at one point Mike Clevinger were using opponents’ whiffs to power local windmills, Carrasco was plugging away every fifth day and keeping runners off home plate with unparalleled reliability.
Unfortunately, like every other Indians pitcher, the playoffs were a completely different story. Carrasco was called upon to pitch in a do-or-die game two rematch from the 2017 ALDS against the Yankees offense with Masahiro Tanaka on the mound. He looked outstanding in the first inning, and even continued his success after rain caused a short delay.
However, the luck that Carrasco carried throughout the season — and his ability to hold runners on base — wasn’t enough for manager Sandy Alomar Jr. to keep him in the game when the bases started to get busy in the fourth inning. The end was result was James Karinchak giving up a soul-crushing grand slam to Gio Urshela, with the runs being credited to Carrasco. That was the end of his, and everyone else’s, season.
With everything that has happened to him in the last year, plus the ongoing pandemic and his own teammates forgoing his personal safety for a dangerous night out, Carlos Carrasco had every excuse to flop in age-33 season. He did no such thing. Instead, he went out and put up arguably his best season to date with everything working against him.
His reward for his efforts — with the impending budget crunch and his gradually increasing options through 2022 — is that he’s now being listed in trade rumors. There’s nothing more than the first signs of smoke, but Terry Pluto is about as connected as Indians media members come and he states pretty matter-of-factly that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the Indians dealt Carrasco.
Chris Antonetti and Co. are admittedly better than most at knowing when to trade pitchers before their arms start to fall off, but I certainly hope a shortened season isn’t the last we see of Carrasco in an Indians uniform. Cookie is the heart and soul of the Indians, and 2020 proved that he is still one hell of a pitcher. (Matt Lyons@mattrly - Oct 14, 2020)
2004: Carlos was signed by Phillies scout Sal Agostinelli, receiving a $300,000 bonus out of a Venezuelan tryout camp.
July 29, 2009: The Indians sent P Cliff Lee and OF Ben Francisco to the Phillies; acquiring Carrasco, Jason Knapp, Jason Donald, and Lou Marson.
April 4, 2015: Carrasco and the Indians agreed to a three-year, $22 million contract in guaranteed money. The contract runs through the 2018 season and includes club options for 2019 and 2020.
Oct 30, 2018: The Tribe exercised Carrasco's $9.7 million team option for 2019.
Dec 6, 2018: Carrasco's deal was extended. The deal he signed in 2015, which was scheduled to run through 2020, now runs through 2022 with a club option for 2023. The Indians had already picked up their $9.7 million option on Carrasco for 2019. With the new deal, they officially pick up their $10.2 million option on him for 2020 and added $12 million guarantees for 2021 and 2022. The 2023 club option is worth $14 million, with a $3 million buyout.
- Jan 7, 2021: The Indians traded SS Francisco Lindor and RHP Carlos Carrasco to the Mets; acquiring SS Andres Gimenez, SS Amed Rosario, RHP Josh Wolf, and OF Isaiah Greene.