Carlos Carrasco says he’ll be ready by Opening Day, but it’s a little more complicated than that

Deesha Thosar, New York Daily News
·3 min read

PORT ST. LUCIE — Carlos Carrasco, who spent nearly a week dealing with right elbow soreness, has been extremely confident he’ll be healthy and prepared for his first turn through the rotation in the first week of April.

“Oh yes,” Carrasco said on Sunday when asked if he’ll be ready by Opening Day. “I will be ready. Yes.”

The righthander threw catch from 75 feet on Sunday, which was his first day throwing after five days off. He planned to increase throwing from 90-120 feet on Monday, followed by a short 10-15 pitch bullpen session on Tuesday.

The next milestone involves facing live batters, but neither the player nor his manager knows exactly when that step will arrive. The team hopes he can face hitters by the weekend.

Luis Rojas was encouraged by Carrasco’s cheerful attitude and general optimism for his own return, but the skipper did not commit to the starter being ready for his first turn through the rotation. Rojas would like to see how Carrasco handles his progression this week before putting a timeline on his first regular season start. The Mets do not need Carrasco to necessarily pitch in a Grapefruit League game and face another uniform as part of his ramp-up.

“I’ve got to respect a guy like Carlos that knows his body very well. He’s an experienced pitcher,” Rojas said, then added: “The idea of throwing the side and then facing hitters by the end of the week, that’s a quick ramp-up after not being able to throw for (five) days.”

Carrasco, 33, has spent 11 years in the major leagues. That decade-plus of experience has given him a solid understanding of his body and how much time he’ll need to bounce back from an elbow soreness that has continued to pop up through his career.

He has experienced the agitation in his pitching elbow at least since 2017 with the Indians. It’s had a tendency to resurface in the form of soreness or inflammation around this time of the year in spring training. Every season, however, he’s been able to quickly nurse the sore right elbow and make his start in the first turn through the rotation.

“I don’t feel frustrated about this,” Carrasco said. “This is something normal for me. I’m really happy to start throwing today and just kind of take it day by day.”

Carrasco said he did not receive an MRI for his soreness this time around and has gone off his wisdom with the injury. Once it’s out of the way in spring training it doesn’t pop up again in the regular season. Carrasco said it’s tough to say whether the injury is avoidable, for example by beginning his ramp-up earlier in the offseason, because he’s gone by feel. His recipe for recovery has included taking a few days off from throwing and resting, which has always worked for him in the past.

Even though Carrasco said he no longer felt the pesky elbow soreness and was now back on track, he was still several strides behind his fellow rotation-mates. Mets starters had entered their third Grapefruit League starts, going up and down four times in an outing and increasing their pitch counts to the 60s. Meanwhile, Carrasco will consider a 15-pitch bullpen session as somewhat of a milestone.

Still, the Mets were hopeful that Carrasco’s speed bumps were behind him and his progression from here on out would be as smooth as possible.

“He’s thrown a lot of games, playoff games, you name it,” Rojas said. “He’s got the feel for competition at the major-league level, and he’s been successful. So for him to go through his progression and ramp-up and everything and being healthy, that’s our main goal.”