Carlos Carrasco’s face was swollen. His jaw was sore. His head hurt.
He was lucky.
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Carrasco didn’t sustain any major injuries after being struck on the right side of the face with a line drive hit by Chicago’s Melky Cabrera in the first inning of Cleveland’s 4-1 loss to the White Sox.
Carrasco was carted off the field after he was flattened by the liner that glanced off his glove and right hand before smacking him on the right side of the face. The right-hander crumpled to the ground in front of the mound with his legs spread wide as manager Terry Francona and a trainer quickly raced out to check on him.
Following the game, Francona said X-rays and a CT scan on Carrasco were negative and he only suffered a bad bruise. Carrasco felt good enough to return to Progressive Field before the game ended. He’ll be re-evaluated on Wednesday.
"In the big picture, we dodged a really big bullet," Francona said. "Really fortunate."
With his concerned teammates gathered around him, Carrasco stayed on the ground for several minutes. Cabrera, holding his batting helmet, came out to the side of the mound to check on Carrasco as well, and White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton dropped to one knee at second base in prayer.
Carrasco was helped to his feet by two Indians trainers before walking slowly to the cart holding the left side of his face. As he was driven off, he was given a warm ovation by Cleveland fans following the scary incident.
"It was a very tough moment," said Cabrera, who was relieved to learn Carrasco was not hurt seriously. "It was real scary because it hit his face, but it’s baseball. You can’t control it once you hit the ball. I felt bad."
Francona said Carrasco was not initially responsive when he was being checked. The trainers wanted to keep him as still as possible in case he had a neck or back injury. But after a few moments, Carrasco came around.
"It’s hard to evaluate how much you care, but when you see him moving his legs, as bad as you want to win every single game, when you see him moving his legs and everything, it’s like `OK, he’s going to be be OK,’" Francona said.
Zach McAllister replaced Carrasco, who signed a four-year, $22 million contract last week. He was one of the AL’s best pitchers in the second half last season and the Indians rewarded the 28-year-old with a long-term deal.
Carrasco’s injury is another early-season blow to the Indians. On Sunday, catcher Yan Gomes was placed on the disabled list with a sprained knee and could miss two months. Also, All-Star left fielder Michael Brantley missed his fifth straight game with a bad back.
Carrasco had a breakout season in 2014, going 8-7 with a 2.55 ERA in 40 games. He started the season in Cleveland’s rotation but struggled and was moved to the bullpen. The Indians returned him to the rotation late in the year, and he went 5-3 with a 1.30 ERA in his final 10 starts.
He revealed after signing his new contract that he underwent a heart procedure at the Cleveland Clinic following last season. He experienced heart palpitations and the surgery was done to increase blood flow.