09/06/11 11:51 PM ET
Elbow surgery could sideline Carrasco for 2012
By Jordan Bastian and Zack Meisel / MLB.com
On Tuesday, the Indians announced that Carrasco is scheduled to undergo Tommy John ligament-replacement surgery on his right elbow, taking the starter out of the mix for 2012. That delivers a considerable blow to the Tribe's starting staff.
"He's going to miss a year, basically," Acta said. "That's hard to swallow. But this surgery is very common nowadays, and guys are coming back usually a year later -- sometimes stronger."
Prior to the Indians' game against the Tigers on Tuesday, head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff outlined the details of Carrasco's injury. The pitcher was transferred to the 60-day disabled list, removing him from the club's 40-man roster, and he is slated to undergo the operation on Sept. 14 in New York.
The Indians are hopeful that Carrasco will be able to pitch again in games -- whether in Cleveland or for a Minor League affiliate -- by next September.
During the procedure, Dr. David Altchek will repair the ulnar collateral ligament in Carrasco's ailing right elbow, which landed him on the DL twice this season. Soloff indicated that MRI exams on Carrasco's joint revealed damage consistent with an old injury -- not one of sudden or traumatic nature.
"Just through repetitive throwing over the years," Soloff explained, "the ligament has become insufficient. It's not doing the job that it should be doing, and that job is to stabilize the inside, or the medial aspect, of the elbow."
In conversations with Carrasco, 24, Soloff said it was learned that the pitcher suffered an elbow injury when he was around 14 years old. At the time, Carrasco sat out for roughly six weeks before throwing again. This season, the pitcher complained of discomfort on the outside of his elbow, rather than on the inside, where the injured ligament is located.
Soloff said one option was to scope the elbow -- removing loose bodies -- but that route would only provide temporary relief for the pitcher. After seeking multiple opinions, the Indians determined that pursuing Tommy John surgery was the best option for a pitcher considered to be a key part of the rotation's long-term plans.
"With his age," Soloff said, "and his pattern of instability, this was the prudent course for us."
Carrasco -- acquired as part of the July 2009 trade that sent lefty Cliff Lee to the Phillies -- went 8-9 with a 4.61 ERA over 124 2/3 innings in 21 starts this year. During a five-start stretch in June, Carrasco went 4-1 with a 0.98 ERA with a pair of 1-0 victories. Those shutouts represented the only wins in a 12-game span for Cleveland.
"Starting in the second half of the season last year," Acta said, "Carrasco showed the type of pitcher that a lot of us have envisioned for a guy with his stuff. This year, too, he was very valuable to us, especially in June, when we went into that big funk, and he was able to stop two losing streaks with 1-0 ballgames.
"We could see it. We could see why this guy has been so highly thought of in the game."
Choo targeting Rangers series for return
CLEVELAND -- Shin-Soo Choo knows the Indians play the Rangers on Sept. 13. It is all he can think about.
The right fielder -- on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique -- is plotting a return for that day. That game against Texas is the first time he will be eligible to play following his potential activation from the DL.
On Monday, Choo participated in a series of baseball activities, including taking dry swings, hitting off a tee and throwing from 75 feet.
"I don't feel it at all now," Choo said. "I feel good."
Choo said he took medicine to treat the pain on Monday, and he received the day off Tuesday. He will increase his activity Wednesday, with more swings and an added distance of 90 feet in his throwing program.
Choo is not exactly fond of the DL, which he has been on twice this season. He missed seven weeks after suffering a broken left thumb on June 24.
"Just sitting and watching in the dugout is tough, since I can't help the team," Choo said. "It's the worst part. I can't pinch-hit or pinch-run, play defense, I can't do anything."
Choo first felt soreness in his left side during an eighth-inning at-bat in the nightcap of the Indians' doubleheader on Aug. 23. He sat out the club's game the next day, then entered in the eighth inning of a game on Aug. 26. He started the Aug. 27 contest against the Royals, but he left after he aggravated what an MRI had revealed to be an oblique strain.
"Every step of my foot on the ground, it hurt," Choo said. "Everybody saw in the dugout my body language. [Head athletic trainer] Lonnie [Soloff] wanted me to come out of the game. I said, 'Lonnie, give me a couple innings. If I come out of the game, I know I'm not coming back for a couple days.' Then, after an inning of defense, I came back in the dugout and came out of the game."
Because his placement on the DL was retroactive to Aug. 28, the Indians can activate Choo on Monday. That is the team's final off-day of the season, however, so the earliest Choo could play is the next day.
Choo is well aware of that timetable.
"That's my goal," Choo said.
Hafner's problematic foot may require surgery
CLEVELAND -- The Indians have not ruled out the possibility that designated hitter Travis Hafner will need surgery on his ailing right foot during the offseason.
On Tuesday, head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff indicated that Hafner was making progress in his rehab process, and the veteran DH remains on target to return to the lineup before the end of the month. When Hafner does rejoin the lineup, Cleveland will be able to better determine if surgery is necessary.
"The importance of Travis coming back this year," Soloff said, "is that if he feels like he continues to have symptoms -- if he feels like there's a functional deficit in his ability to hit and run, or to perform his job as a designated hitter -- that would then be an indication to addressing his foot surgically."
Hafner, who has hit .281 with 11 homers and 49 RBIs in 82 games this season, has been on the 15-day disabled list with the right foot injury since Aug. 22. Hafner, 34, has dealt with the issue off and on since late April, but he aggravated the injury on Aug. 21 in a home game against the Tigers.
Hafner progressed to taking normal batting practice this week with the Indians, and he continues to work through a gradual running program. The DH has been running on an anti-gravity treadmill to reduce the stress on his legs, but Soloff said Hafner will resume "land-based" running on Wednesday.
Soloff described Hafner's injury as a strained tendon on the bottom of his foot. If Hafner does require offseason surgery, the procedure would shift the tendon -- rather than remove it -- inside the foot to provide more comfort.
Quote to note
"I've got a little nerves going. It almost feels like another debut for me, because it's been a while. We'll see how quickly we can get the rust off, and hopefully, I'll pick up where Jason Donald has left off, because he's been playing great." -- Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, on returning from the disabled list
Indians right-hander Josh Tomlin, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow injury, was reevaluated by a team doctor on Tuesday. The pitcher received clearance to begin a throwing program on Wednesday. With roughly three weeks left in the regular season, Tomlin is willing to work as a starter or reliever.
"I just want to pitch," Tomlin said.
On Tuesday, the Indians claimed righty Jason Rice off waivers from the Oakland A's. Cleveland optioned Rice -- acquired by the A's in the Wednesday trade that sent outfielder Conor Jackson to the Red Sox -- to Triple-A Columbus. Rice appeared in 44 games for Triple-A Pawtucket this year, posting a 4-5 record and 3.69 ERA in 85 1/3 innings.
The Indians are planning to honor Jim Thome's entrance to the 600 home run club during a pregame ceremony on Sept. 23. Cleveland will have a presentation and video tribute for Thome, who is entered Tuesday with a franchise-record 335 homers and 602 overall for his career. Scheduled to be on hand to help honor Thome's achievement are Mike Hargrove, Sandy Alomar, Jr., Carlos Baerga, Paul Sorrento and Chad Ogea. All fans will receive a Jim Thome commemorative poster.
On Tuesday, the Indians named Double-A Akron lefty Kelvin De La Cruz the organization's Minor League Player of the Week for the period of Aug. 28-Sept. 3. De La Cruz logged 5 1/3 shutout innings, collecting two saves along the way. He struck out six, walked two and allowed one hit.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. Zack Meisel is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.