By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND — Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco is being treated for leukemia, and he says it’s going to make him stronger than he was before.
Carrasco hasn’t played for Cleveland since May 30. The 32-year-old right-hander says he got a blood test after a spring-training physical prompted some concern, and he was diagnosed with leukemia in May.
“I never thought that I would have something like this, because I play baseball, I’m like super healthy or something like that,” Carrasco says in a video posted on the Indians’ Twitter account. “But you never know what’s going on inside your body.
“When I found out, it made me even stronger, then I push myself to work through this. Then I have a lot of people behind me, helping me, especially my teammates and family.”
Manager Terry Francona said the club knew the details of Carrasco’s condition before the video was released. Carrasco plans to talk to the media in Cleveland next Thursday. Francona declined to talk about the pitcher’s condition beyond what he said in the video.
“There’s nothing that came out that we didn’t know,” Francona said before Saturday’s interleague game in Cincinnati. “Carlos is going to talk to you guys Thursday night at our workout. He’s still throwing and doing all that.”
Carrasco also told a TV station in the Dominican Republic about his condition while visiting a hospital, where he was seeing patients. He said he feels positive about his prognosis and he’ll be back with the team “at the end of July.”
Asked if Carrasco’s optimism about a quick return is realistic, Francona said: “We’re not putting any timetables. I don’t think that’s fair to anybody.”
Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. There are numerous forms of the disease, many of which are highly treatable.
Carrasco’s announcement led to a wave of support from all over baseball. The Reds tweeted “Reds Country is rooting for you” to Carrasco.
Following his diagnosis, Carrasco spoke with longtime teammate Jason Kipnis, who helped him research and understand what he was dealing with.
“He’ll get through this with the help of everybody,” Kipnis said. “I know the city will be very supportive of him. Every time anyone sees him they will wish him well and ask him how he’s doing. I’m sure he’ll still have a big smile on his face. He’s always in a good mood.”
Carrasco initially joined the Indians as a reliever, but has developed into one of the AL’s steadiest front-of-the-rotation pitchers. With a fun-loving personality, he’s also one of the team’s most popular players.
Carrasco won 17 games last season and went 18-6 in 2017, when he finished fourth in the AL Cy Young Award voting.
Before he was diagnosed, Carrasco was not pitching well. He went 4-6 with a 4.98 ERA in 12 starts, and gave up 14 home runs in 65 innings.
Carrasco, who is from Venezuela, has been with Cleveland since 2009, when he came over from Philadelphia in the blockbuster trade for ace Cliff Lee. The Indians signed him to a $47 million, four-year contract in December.