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All-Star Game notes: Indians players' thoughts are with Carlos Carrasco as Cleveland prepares to host All-Star Game

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    Youngsters chase after balls that don't leave the ball park during the Home Run Derby on Monday, July 8, 2019, at Progressive Field.



CLEVELAND — Indians fans took to Twitter to petition Major League Baseball to allow right-hander Carlos Carrasco to throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to tonight’s All-Star Game at Progressive Field.

Whether that happens or not, thoughts will be with Carrasco throughout the ballpark after he revealed Saturday that he had been diagnosed with leukemia.

“It’s been tough. He’s one of a kind,” rotation mate Shane Bieber said of Carrasco, who is battling a treatable case of leukemia. “We know he’s going to be stronger from it and he’s going to be fine, he’s going to bounce back. Only him, only he can turn this into a positive note like he has. He spent more time at the children’s hospital, kinda turning his situation into an opportunity to help others. He’s a role model on and off the field and I look up to him for many ways. We’re playing for him and we’re praying for him and thinking about him a lot. He’s an incredible guy and one of the biggest personalities I ever met.”

“What baseball players go through are distant problems,” shortstop Francisco Lindor said. “They’re tough in the moment. But what Carrasco is going through is real. And we are with him. We are backing him up. He is our brother. We love him. I know he’s going to be fine. It’s definitely helping us to understand you can’t take life for granted.

“Cookie is a great person. He’ll be fine. We’re all praying for him. We’re a team, a family. We’re going to be together. We stick together.”

Shortly after learning the news of Carrasco’s diagnosis, manager Terry Francona called a team meeting, June 4, at Progressive Field.

“We already had (camaraderie) and you never want that to bring a team together. I’d say we were already together but if there’s one guy that’s going to do it, it’s Cookie,” Bieber said. “I think it’s been tough without him and only seeing him every now and then, not having him on the road trips and stuff because he’s such a light personality and keeps everything so fun, all while being an All-Star pitcher. He’s an incredible guy, an incredible teammate, so the most we can do is be there for him and play for him and keep checking in on him.”

Carrasco had begun playing catch at the end of June and he was cleared Saturday to resume physical activity and throwing to tolerance. There is no timetable for his return, but there is still a chance Carrasco could take the mound before the season is complete.

Francona said he spoke to him Sunday morning.

“He was on his way to (Class A) Lake County to throw a side day and he’s going to talk to the media on Thursday. I told him, ‘Hey, if you need me there or you want me there, just let me know. If not, OK. But if you want somebody sitting next to you, let me know.’ He knows that he’s got a lot of extended family that’ll be with him and I think he actually knows that. It’s not just talk. He knows he’s got a lot of people that care about him.”

Hand-ing off

American League manager Alex Cora said Monday that if his team was leading in the ninth inning, Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, not Cleveland’s Brad Hand, would be on the mound. Cora said he would employ Hand as a setup man in the eighth.

“It doesn’t matter to me. It’s just gonna be a fun experience no matter what,” said Hand, who owns a 2.17 ERA and 23 saves, one behind Chapman, the AL saves leader, over 39 appearances. “I hope (Detroit’s) Shane (Greene) gets in there as well, being his first All-Star Game.”

Whatever happens, Hand, who converted his first 22 save opportunities, is looking forward to joining teammates Carlos Santana, Bieber and Lindor on the big stage in front of the hometown fans.

“It’s awesome. To have four guys in the All-Star Game and to be able to represent Cleveland in the game,” he said. “Obviously we’re all comfortable here. I mean, Santana has openly talked about how much he loves Cleveland. For him to be able to start his first

All-Star Game here in Cleveland, it’s gonna be pretty awesome.”

Final farewell

Former Indians ace CC Sabathia will be honored prior to tonight’s All-Star Game.

Sabathia, 38, is set to retire at the end of the season. He spent the first seven-plus years of his career (2001-08) in Cleveland, making the All-Star team three times and winning the Cy Young Award in 2007.

“It was an awesome time for me, getting here when I was 20 years old, pitching here for so long and pitching in some playoff games,” Sabathia said of his time in Cleveland. “My kids were born here, so it’s just a special place for me and my family. To be able to come back here is great.”

Young guns

There are 36 first-time All-Stars on the AL and NL rosters, with 19 of them 25 or younger. At an average age of 26, the NL has the youngest lineup in All-Star Game history.

“It’s in a great spot,” Lindor said of the game. “Baseball’s always been great, but having all those young faces and the new guys in the All-Star Game, it’s fun. It shows that the game has continued to grow. There’s a lot of young players playing the game and they’re really good. It’s fun to watch them around the league and I’m excited for them. They should be enjoying this event.”

Roundin’ third

  • The AL owns a slight edge all-time in All-Star Games (44-43-2), winning 13 of the last 16 games and 18 of the last 20.
  • Hall of Famer Jim Thome, the Indians’ all-time home run hitter, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Lindor prior to the start of the Home Run Derby.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at (440) 329-7136 or Like him on Facebook and follow him @CAwesomeheimer on Twitter.

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