NEW YORK -- When doctors first diagnosed reliever D.J. Carrasco with a sprained right ankle in mid-March, they gave Carrasco what he considered a "doom and gloom" timetable -- six to eight weeks for a full recovery. It turned out to be accurate. Roughly six weeks after first suffering the injury, Carrasco was available for the first time Sunday out of the Mets' bullpen.
"I'm excited to redeem myself and get back out here," Carrasco said. "There's some excitement when you're playing for something still."
The Mets plan to slot Carrasco back into the middle-innings mix, fighting for mound time with Ramon Ramirez and Manny Acosta. But if Carrasco pitches anything like he did during a nine-inning rehab assignment, he could quickly see his role increase. Splitting his rehab time between Triple-A Buffalo and Class A St. Lucie, Carrasco allowed one run and three hits, striking out five and walking one.
"They tell me he's throwing great," manager Terry Collins said. "They tell me the ball's really sinking."
Carrasco estimated his cut fastball velocity at around 88 mph during his rehab, with his sinker jumping as high as 92. Both figures are multiple ticks up from where Carrasco rested last season, when he posted a 6.02 ERA in 42 games.
Now, Carrasco is back for the second half of his two-year, $2.4 million deal, looking to carry his rehab success into the regular season.
"I'm very happy with my results in rehab," Carrasco said. "My biggest thing is to have my sinker and cutter combination going. Without that, last year obviously was a big-time struggle for me. I couldn't get outs."