Carrasco Healthy and Looking to Get Back Into Rotation
During Spring Training the DTTWLN staff will profile and examine the coaches and players that make up and are vying to be part of the 2013 Cleveland Indians—A Team With A New Direction. Today, we examine one of the players on the 40-man roster that is on the mend this spring.
By Craig Gifford
There seems to be no question as to the health of Carlos Carrasco. According to Cleveland Indians coaches and front office personnel, the right handed pitcher is full go this spring and expected to compete for a spot in the rotation coming out of training camp.
Carrasco, a 26-year-old, had his career derailed in August 2011. On August 3, that season, he made his final start before going on the disabled list for the second time with elbow soreness. In September, the decision was made for the young pitcher to undergo Tommy John surgery ending any hope of a return that year, as well as canceling Carrasco out for the 2012 campaign.
Now, Carrasco is in Goodyear, Arizona looking to resume a career that appeared to be going on the right path before the injury.
“He should be ready to go. He was looking good toward the end of the year,” said Cleveland pitching coach Mickey Callaway in an interview Nov. 15 on All Bets Are Off with Bruce Drennan. “He was lighting the radar gun up and he feels healthy and confident, so he should be ready to go.”
Indians manager Terry Francona, said during January’s Tribe Fest that Carrasco was not expected to have any physical limitations and should be ready to compete like the rest of the starters on the roster.
“I saw Carlos Carrasco throw in the cage,” Francona said last month. “(Granted) it was indoors, but it was making a loud sound. He is totally healthy. Now saying that, there may not be an innings limit, but we want to use good judgment. He’s going to pitchers and catchers on the same program as everybody else which is good news. If he’s not healthy, then nobody is. ”
While health does not seem to be a problem for Carrasco, where exactly he fits on the team is a bit murkier. Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Brett Myers are guaranteed starting jobs this season. That leaves two open spots and a number of hopefuls to fill them.
After a good rookie showing last year, Zach McAllister entered this spring with a strong chance of filling one of the rotation holes. Another rookie from 2012, Corey Kluber, also is a contender for the rotation. Neither are a lock at any stretch and both could be helped by a little more minor league seasoning. That extra experience factor holds especially true for Kluber, who struggled more with the Tribe last year than McAllister.
After the two rookies come several veterans hoping for one more shot in a major league starting staff. Lefty David Huff has been with the Indians for several years. He has been up and down between Cleveland and Triple-A on numerous occasions and is now out of options. He has had very mixed results in the big leagues. At times Huff has looked like a keeper, while other times he’s looked lost. His best bet to make the Cleveland roster out of spring training is likely as a long reliever in the bullpen.
Scott Kazmir and Daisuke Matsuzaka are a pair of veterans hoping to make comeback with the Tribe. The Indians signed them both to minor league contracts over the winter. The hope is one of the two veterans can bounce back from injuries and other issues that have plagued their once-promising careers over the last few years.
Then there is Trevor Bauer. He is, of course, the rookie phenom the Indians received from Arizona as part of the three-team deal that sent Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati. Bauer, who made his Major League debut with the Diamondbacks last year, will be in the rotation at some point this year. He is not likely to break camp with the big league club, however, as his 6.06 ERA in four starts with Arizona showed the 22-year-old may still have some fine-tuning that needs done in the minors.
Then there is Carrasco. Two years ago, Carrasco was viewed as a young up-and-comer and potential number two or three starter. In 2011, he was actually showing signs of being that pitcher. Before he was shut down for Tommy John Surgery, he was 8-9, with a 4.62 ERA. He was actually better than that much of the season, but the elbow problem affected his last few starts.
Before the injury, Carrasco had certainly impressed those in the Cleveland organization.
“Seeing him pitch prior to Tommy John, he certainly has the weapons and pitches to be an effective Major League starter,” said Tribe General Manager Chris Antonetti in a Feb. 13 press conference.
Now, Carrasco needs to go out and impress again. There is no reason Carrasco, at least physically, should not be able to pitch like he did a couple seasons ago. He actually may pitch better, as many pitchers have improved after Tommy John.
Carrasco likely fits in as the number five starter. After the three rotation locks, barring injury, McAllister should be number four. That leaves the three veterans and Carrasco. Huff will probably be in the bullpen or released. Matsuzaka and Kazmir would really have to make major strides to make the team as they are not on the 40-man roster. Of the two, Matsuzaka has the better chance as he did pitch in the majors last year, while Kazmir was away from the game. Like Carrasco, Matsuzaka is making a Tommy John return. Carrasco is younger than both of those two comeback hopefuls, giving him the leg up in being able to rebound.
Carrasco should open the year healthy and in the Tribe rotation, picking up where he left off nearly two years ago.
Photo: Jordan Bastian/MLB.com