Cleveland Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco has been slowed by inflammation in his right elbow (and, earlier, a hip flexor strain). And while an MRI confirmed Carrasco is not dealing with any structural damage, president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti told reporters on Wednesday that it could be a “stretch” for Carrasco to be ready for Opening Day (Twitter thread via Mandy Bell of MLB.com).
Meanwhile, Cleveland.com reported Wednesday that Carrasco received an injection in his right elbow to reduce inflammation, according to the team. He will be held back from throwing for a few more days. Carrasco was expected to rejoin the Cleveland rotation after being diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia last year and sat out more than three months.
It’s mixed news for Indians fans since nothing from Antonetti’s comments suggest Carrasco is expected to require a significant absence. The Indians already have right-hander Mike Clevinger on the shelf as he recovers from surgery to repair a partial meniscus tear, and this winter’s slate of rule changes upped the minimum IL stint for pitchers from 10 days back to 15 days.
If Carrasco is placed on the injured list, that stint can still be backdated up to three days, but he’d be looking at missing at least the first 12 days of this season.
With Clevinger and Carrasco perhaps sitting on the IL to begin the season, the Indians will likely give 2019 breakout righty Shane Bieber the Opening Day nod. He’d be followed by a quartet of relatively inexperienced arms: Aaron Civale, Zach Plesac, Adam Plutko and Logan Allen. (Civale has been bothered by a groin issue himself, though Antonetti indicated he’s expected to be ready for the opener.)
The Indians’ rotation is in a transitional state. Each of Bieber (controlled through 2024), Clevinger (controlled through 2022) and Carrasco (signed through 2023) should be locks for the next few years, health permitting. However, two of Civale, Plesac, Allen, Plutko and prospects Triston McKenzie and Scott Moss will likely be counted on to eventually seize permanent starting jobs.
Viewed through that lens, even brief absences for the club’s top arms early in the season could serve as a continued audition for many arms the organization hopes will emerge as core pieces.
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