For Carrasco, leukemia puts baseball injuries in perspective


PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Carlos Carrasco’s experience being treated for leukemia taught him to put baseball injuries in perspective.

That’s why the New York Mets pitcher is taking in stride a hamstring injury that will cause him to start the season on the injured list.

“When somebody told you you had cancer, that’s completely different,” Carrasco said Saturday. “With the elbow a couple weeks ago, now this, like I said before, this is nothing for me, I can walk away from this.”

He injured his right hamstring during conditioning that followed him throwing batting practice Thursday. There was no indication anything was wrong until he felt a pop.

“I didn’t feel tightness, nothing like that,” he said.

Carrasco said the injury occurred on his seventh sprint. TheMets newcomer said the team didn’t give him a timetable for a return; injuries like this often take six to eight weeks to recover from.

A right-hander who turns 34 on Sunday, Carrasco has has not appeared any any exhibition games this year.

He got the coronavirus vaccine this winter, causing him to start spring training workouts behind other players. He then stopped throwing for a stretch because of elbow soreness.

Carrasco said he injured his left hamstring several years ago, probably in 2015.

“If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen,” he said.

Then with Cleveland, Carrasco missed about three months in 2019 due to a treatable form of leukemia.

“The athlete that he is, the professional baseball player that he is, has been so successful in his career, and also have those battles along outside the playing field, watching him everyday how he goes about it, has been outstanding. It’s been an outstanding experience to be able to learn him,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said.

“It’s the third day now since he had the hamstring, and he was here — he was one of the first guys here today. You could tell that’s how he goes about this type of thing. I’m glad that he shared some of his experience battling bigger things before. And the way he’s seeing this, he’s just approaching the best way along with out medical staff,” he said.

New York opens April 1 at Washington and will be without Carrasco in a rotation projected to include two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker.

Rojas said David Peterson is the leading contender for the fourth slot. Left-hander Joey Lucchesi and Jordan Yamamoto are candidates for fifth starter along with a trio of non-roster pitchers: Jerad Eickhoff, Corey Oswalt and left-hander Mike Montgomery.

Carrasco pitched through the pandemic last year, going 3-4 in 12 starts with a 2.91 ERA, his best since a career-best 2.55 ERA when he split 2014 between Cleveland’s rotation and bullpen. He has an 88-73 career record with a 3.73 ERA.

He was traded by Cleveland with All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor on Jan. 7 for young infielders Andrés Giménez and Amed Rosario and two minor league prospects, right-hander Josh Wolf and outfielder Isaiah Green.

Carrasco is signed at $12 million for each of the next two seasons, part of a deal that includes a $14 million team option for 2023 with a $3 million buyout. The option would become guaranteed if he pitches 170 innings in 2022 and is found to be healthy for the 2023 season.

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