Carrasco Running Out of Second Chances
Mike Brandyberry | On 10, Apr 2013
When you aren’t honest, you can only receive the benefit of the doubt for so long.
“I really want to say I’m sorry,” Carlos Carrasco said after last night’s 14-1 drubbing from the New York Yankees. “I don’t want to hit anybody. I’m coming from a six-game suspension, I don’t want to do anything real bad and I’m just telling the truth. That’s what happened.”
It sounds like a good story if you don’t know Carrasco. However, as he mentioned, last night’s game was his first big league game since Aug. 2011 after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery. His last appearance on Aug. 3, was while appealing a six game suspension from Major League Baseball for throwing at Kansas City Royals’ Billy Butler. On July 29, Melky Cabrera hit a grand slam home run into the right field seats in the fourth inning, giving the Royals a 7-0 lead. The next pitch sailed behind Butler’s head, Carrasco was immediately ejected and later suspended.
Fast forward to last night, Carrasco’s first game after a long road back from surgery and fulfilling his suspension. Same inning, only this time Robinson Cano hit just a two-run home run to make it a 7-0 deficit. The next pitch from Carrasco was just inches below Kevin Youkilis’ head, drilling him in the shoulder. Carrasco was immediately ejected by home plate umpire Jordan Baker.
“It didn’t look good,” Indians Manager Terry Francona said. “I understand the umpire’s viewpoint. I think if you look at the video, he slipped. If you’re on the other side, I understand it. But that’s what happened.”
Carrasco says he slipped, says he is sorry. Baker knows an intentional pitch when he sees one. He didn’t have to think long before immediately ejecting Carrasco. Indians broadcaster Rick Manning—a retired 13-year Major League veteran—felt the pitch was intentional. He was immediately outraged on the broadcast, calling out Carrasco for his behavior. The same is true for former pitcher Jason Stanford on the Indians postgame show. Francona, a player’s manager, has to defend his player, but even he understands.
Yankees Manager Joe Girardi was not impressed.
“That was right in the middle of his back after a home run,” he said. “No one ever knows if a guy truly does it on purpose. But he just came back from a suspension. If it was on purpose, it’s not a good idea. If it wasn’t, it looks like it was. Either way, it doesn’t look good.”
That’s the thing about people who aren’t honest, it’s hard to tell when they are telling the truth. The same goes for headhunters in baseball. Headhunting breaks baseball code. You don’t jeopardize another player’s safety or livelihood. Nearly every pitcher whose hit a batter intentionally claims it was an accident or that it slipped. When you have a history of headhunting, like Carrasco does, it’s tough to believe a person when they say they weren’t headhunting.
The Indians have stood by Carrasco and given him the benefit of the doubt in the past. When the Philadelphia Phillies traded him to the Indians in the Cliff Lee trade, they believed in his talent, but questioned his mental toughness for the big leagues. Francona was clear this spring to talk about Carrasco, the work he has done to rebuild himself coming off injury and how they were giving him the opportunity to serve his suspension at the start of the season because they thought so much of him. Cleveland has been forced into several roster decisions because of injuries, and in part, playing a man down while Carrasco served his suspension.
If Carrasco hit Youkilis intentionally, it’s a poor way to repay the Indians for their trust in him. Certainly a player or two in the dugout had to think last night, ‘we played a man down for a week for this?’ as Carrasco walked off the field last night. If he didn’t hit Youkilis intentionally, his timing was awful and the coincidence is uncanny. Again, it’s tough to give the benefit of the doubt when the track record already exists.
Carrasco is likely headed back to Triple-A soon, to work on mechanics and control. After last night’s drubbing, he certainly doesn’t appear ready to compete at the Major League level. He’ll also likely receive another suspension from Major League Baseball—possibly longer than the last six game punishment from 2011.
Hopefully, before the Indians and Francona decide to help Carrasco serve another suspension, they’ll think twice about giving him the benefit of the doubt.
It appears nearly everyone else already has their doubts about him.
Photo: Chuck Crow/Cleveland Plain Dealer