CLEVELAND -- Carlos Carrasco tries not to think too much about how the Indians' World Series chances might have differed had he been healthy. What the pitcher has focused on is the job the rest of the rotation did and what that could mean for Cleveland's quest to get back to the Fall Classic.
For the past two weeks, Carrasco has been throwing with no lingering issues from the fractured right hand he sustained in September. The big righty has played catch in Florida with fellow Tribe starter Danny Salazar, whose own injury woes kept him out of the playoff rotation. With both starters expected to be ready for Opening Day, Carrasco likes Cleveland's chances once again.
"I'm 100 percent right now. I'm good," Carrasco said Monday from the Dominican Republic, where he is helping deliver baseball gloves and shoes to kids this week. "I'm going to be ready this year to help the team. I can't wait to go to Spring Training and start games and start the season again."
Carrasco has been busy this offseason.
After the Indians' deep postseason run, Carrasco and his family traveled to Europe for vacation. For the past three months, his home in Tampa, Fla., became the headquarters for medical supply and toy donations for charitable efforts for his native Venezuela through his foundation. The pitcher was in Cleveland last week for a scheduled checkup, has spent time doing charity work in the Tampa Bay area and is now in the D.R.
Carrasco plans on heading to Cleveland for Tribe Fest on Jan. 28, and then he will be off to Goodyear, Ariz., to get an early jump on Spring Training. At the moment, he has built up to throwing from 90-100 feet and has resumed heavy weight lifting. His right hand -- fractured by a line drive hit by Ian Kinsler on Sept. 17 -- is no longer a problem.
The injury -- specifically, a non-displaced fracture of the fifth metacarpal -- cost Carrasco the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs. The right-hander ended the campaign 11-8 with a 3.32 ERA and 150 strikeouts in 146 1/3 innings. It was a big blow for the Indians, who also lost Salazar to a right forearm injury in September. In the playoffs, Cleveland leaned heavily on Corey Kluber, Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer.
With those three arms, plus one start from rookie Ryan Merritt in the American League Championship Series against Toronto, Cleveland reached its first World Series since 1997. The Indians then lasted until Game 7 with the depleted staff. During each clinching celebration along the journey, Carrasco was in the middle of the party. During games, he was there cheering on his team.
"You know what? It was a little bit hard," Carrasco said. "But, at the same time, I couldn't show that to my teammates. They always tell me how happy I am and how I'm always playing around. As soon as I got hit on my hand, I put it in my mind that I can't let that beat me. I need to feel good and be the same guy with everyone. So, that's what I did."
Carrasco then watched Kluber, Tomlin and Bauer nearly lead the Indians to a World Series championship.
"Those guys, I've got big, big, big respect for those three guys," Carrasco said. "Those guys were unbelievable. They gave everything."
And Carrasco is confident that Cleveland has the pieces to go for it again.
"It was great, what those three guys did," Carrasco said. "With five guys now, when the season starts, it's going to be great."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.