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Carrasco set for rehab start Saturday

By PAUL HOYNES • Jun 28, 2018 at 1:00 PM

ST. LOUIS — Carlos Carrasco, fourteen days after taking a 100 mph line drive off his right elbow, is scheduled take the mound in a rehab start for Class AA Akron on Saturday.

Carrasco threw his second bullpen session Wednesday since going on the disabled list on June 17 after being struck by a Joe Mauer line drive on June 16 in the second inning.

"Saturday is the day we're shooting for," said manager Terry Francona. "I think just through our conversations, he'd feel better throwing maybe 65 pitches, so when he comes back and he pitches in a game, he can probably safely get out to about 85 pitches and it's not a bullpen day for us."

If things go well on Saturday, and Carrasco is ready to rejoin the Indians' rotation, his target date would be July 6 against Oakland at Progressive Field. Adam Plutko and Mike Clevinger would be in line to pitch that day as well if Carrasco needs more rehab time.

Carrasco is 8-5 with a 4.24 ERA in 15 starts. He's struck out 96 and walked 22 in 91 1/3 innings.

Good time for some extra rest

The Indians are off Thursday before starting a three-game series against Oakland on Friday night at the Coliseum. Francona and pitching coach Carl Willis have used the off day to give Mike Clevinger and extra day's rest.

They've been monitoring Clevinger's workload after he threw more than 100 pitches in nine of 10 starts from May 1 through June 19. On Monday night, Clevinger threw 98 pitches, but left after five innings because of cramping in his legs.

Clevinger won't start again until Sunday against Oakland

A byproduct of that move will be an extra day's rest for Corey Kluber as well. Kluber, after lasting just 1 2/3 innings in Tuesday's 11-2 loss to the Cardinals, will start Monday night against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

When the two-time Cy Young winner doesn't pitch well, it's not just the fans who wonder is something is wrong with Kluber.

"I think it's kind of like, 'Whoa.' Like, even with us, it's he must be hurt,'" Francona said. "He's that good where you're like, "Shoot, something's got to be wrong with him.' But no (he's OK.)."

Can he play here?

Rookie Shane Bieber made his fourth big-league start Wednesday night against St. Louis at Busch Stadium. In his first three starts he struck out 22 batters, tying him with Danny Salazar for the third most strikeouts in a pitcher's first three appearances in franchise history.

So just when does a pitcher know his stuff "will play' in the big leagues?

"One of the first things I told him was, 'Hey, hitters will let you know if you need to adjust,'" said Francona. "Some guys come up and they're, not starstruck, but like, 'Oh man, I've got to be perfect.' Well, the hitters will let you know. If they're whacking it all over, yeah, maybe you better adjust.

"But, if you're working quick, working ahead, doing some things, maybe you're OK. He made slight adjustments, but I just wanted him. . .to work to his strengths and see where it goes from there."

St. Louis memories

Francona was playing left field for the Montreal Expos on June 16, 1982. The Expos had a big lead over the Cardinals at old Busch Stadium and manager JIm Fanning asked Francona if he wanted to come out of the game.

"I said no," said Francona. "Charlie Lea was pitching a really good game for us and I was young."

In the seventh inning, Julio Gonzalez of the Cardinals hit a fly ball to left.

"I went back and the thing they pushed the water into on those old Tartan warning tracks, I planted my foot on," said Francona. "It kind of gave and my (right) knee just exploded. My momentum took me into the wall and my foot was planted and my knee just exploded again when I hit the wall."

Francona, the Expos' No.1 pick in 1980, was done for the year. He was hitting .321 (42-for-131).

There was a Marriott Hotel across the street from old Busch Stadium. The visiting teams all stayed there and If you had a room on one of the upper floors, you could look down into the ballpark.

"I remember that night," said Francona. "I was on crutches (in my hotel room) and looking down at the spot where I got hurt. I was wondering, "Damn are my ligaments down there?' I didn't know if I should go get them or what."

Two years later on June 14 at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Francona planted to avoid a tag and "my other knee exploded. All I could think of was like this is going to be the worst 10 seconds of pain in my life and then it goes away. That's exactly what happened. I was just saying, 'Don't throw up, don't throw up, don't throw up.'"

Francona was hitting .346 (74-for-214).

"For the last seven years of my career, I wore tennis shoes when I played," said Francona. "I couldn't wear spikes."

Francona has no ill feelings toward St. Louis. In fact, he likes the city.

In 2004, he led the Red Sox to a four-game sweep of the Cardinals to win the World Series at the same ballpark when he injured his right knee 22 years earlier.

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