Carrasco sharp in latest spring start for Tribe

MESA, Ariz. (AP) Carlos Carrasco took a step Friday toward being ready for his first regular season start.

Now the Cleveland Indians right-hander just has to figure out when that might be.

Carrasco tossed three strong innings in a spring training game against the Chicago Cubs, his first start since March 13, when he felt elbow discomfort while being rocked for eight runs and eight hits, including three home runs, against the Chicago White Sox.

A scan revealed only minor inflammation, and Carrasco was able to play catch and throw a bullpen session. He faced nine batters in a minor league game Monday.

Carrasco hit 92 mph with his fastball in the second inning Friday and allowed a hit with two walks and two strikeouts. His spring ERA dropped from 15.75 to 11.45.

He's scheduled for one more spring training start before the season opens, and although Carrasco said his arm is ready for early April, manager Terry Francona was cautious.

''We can't go from three to eight,'' Francona said. ''The next outing is going to probably be four. There's still got to be a progression. So we're going to have to figure that out.''

Francona had considered Carrasco as the No. 2 starter in the Indians' rotation to start the season, behind Corey Kluber. But Carrasco, who was 11-8 with a 3.32 ERA in a 2016 season shortened by a broken bone in his hand, hasn't pitched more than three innings in any of his five starts this spring.

He struck out slugger Anthony Rizzo in the first inning with a pitch down and away that Rizzo chased and missed.

''I feel great,'' Carrasco said. ''I'm able to throw my fastball for strikes. My breaking ball was good, changeup, everything fine.''

Carrasco's spring was also interrupted by the birth of his son. He hopes to pitch five innings in his next start and plans to get back to his original schedule of a bullpen session two days after a start.

''For sure I can throw like normal,'' Carrasco said. ''I know I'm a little bit behind, but I'm ready and my arm's good.''

NOTES: Indians OF Lonnie Chisenhall left the game in the second inning with a slight to mild right shoulder strain, per Francona, when he crashed into the right field wall chasing a fly ball. Chisenhall will be examined Saturday morning. ''We'll have to see,'' Francona said. ... Cubs CF Albert Almora Jr. left after three innings with left neck tightness. Almora was hurt diving for a ball early in the game. He is expected to join the Cubs in Las Vegas for a weekend series. ... Indians C Roberto Perez and SS Francisco Lindor are back with the team from playing for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. Perez, who didn't get many at-bats in the WBC, led off as the designated hitter Friday. ... SS Erik Gonzalez was hit in the hand by a pitch in the eighth inning and is likely to miss a game. ... Cubs IF Javier Baez returned to the team from the WBC, where he shined for Puerto Rico, and will remain in camp rather than go to Las Vegas. ... SS Addison Russell was scratched from the original lineup with a stiff back, replaced by Munenori Kawasaki. ... Late night TV host Jimmy Kimmel and singer Huey Lewis sang ''Take Me Out to the Ballgame'' during the seventh inning stretch.

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