CLEVELAND -- The results from the first two rehab appearances at Double-A Akron have the Indians optimistic but cautious when it comes to the return of Carlos Carrasco.
Carrasco has looked strong since beginning a rehab assignment Monday, throwing in the 97-mph range, as he attempts to come back from chronic myeloid leukemia and fill a spot in the bullpen.
THe right-hander is scheduled to take another step Sunday, pitching around two innings for Triple-A Columbus.
“I think he’s excited about where he is, because of that we got excited,” manager Terry Francona said. “I think we need to remember that he missed three months and he’s pitched twice. We’ve said it before, you can’t just care about somebody’s well-being when it’s convenient. That doesn’t make sense.
“I told him, ‘I’d love to have you back yesterday,‘ because I think, you put him in our bullpen, he has the chance to do some special things. I think we need to do this right for him.”
Though Carrasco would like to pitch on the major league level as soon as possible, he appreciates the concern from the Indians -- according to Francona.
“He knows we care about him, he knows. He wants to pitch, which we respect. He knows we care,” Francona said.
After Sunday’s outing, Carrasco is expected to take a couple days off before throwing an inning for Columbus at Louisville. A couple more days off will follow before another inning-long appearance.
It’s all subject to change, with team doctors expected to revisit with him after each outing.
-- Corey Kluber, who was shut down for two weeks after leaving his last rehab outing Sunday with an oblique strain, underwent an MRI Friday in Cleveland.
“The reason behind that is to see if there’s anything (doctors) feel they can do to kinda speed up or enhance the recovery process,” Francona said. “It’s probably not going to alter the time table a ton either way but you just kinda don’t want to leave any stone unturned.”
-- Outfielder Jordan Luplow (right hamstring strain) ran the bases prior to Friday’s series opener against Kansas City and is expected to do the same Sunday, followed by a re-evaluation.
“He’s doing really well,” Francona said of Luplow, who has been sidelined since Aug. 6. “The (trainers) said they were really proud of the way he kinda attacked (rehab) while we were (on the road).”
Man in black
Francona did his pregame media session in his “Player’s Weekend” uniform, which included black pants.
“What’s the slogan? ‘Let the kids play.’ Let the grown-ups look like morons,” he joked.
Players from the Indians and Royals will wear special uniforms this weekend with their nicknames on the back. Cleveland’s players and coaching staff wore black tops and pants for the series opener, while the Royals were in white with powder blue letters and numbers.
“I saw (assistant coach) Brian Sweeney walking down the hallway and I said, ‘I hope I don’t look as stupid as you do,’” Francona said. “And then three guys said, ‘You look worse.’”
Francona was understandably groggy during the pregame session. The Indians‘ team plane didn’t arrive until 4 a.m. Friday from New York and he said he didn’t get back to his downtown Cleveland apartment until 5:30 a.m.
“That’s the one advantage of waking up every morning and feeling (crappy) -- it’s the same,” he said.
Outfielder Daniel Johnson went 2-for-4 with his eighth home run Thursday in Columbus’ 6-2 win over visiting Louisville.
Johnson, 24, was acquired along with right-hander Jefry Rodriguez in an offseason trade with the Nationals for longtime Indians catcher Yan Gomes. He entered Friday batting .309 with 24 doubles and 43 RBIs in 76 games for the Clippers since his promotion from Akron.
Right-hander Tyler Clippard’s 2.17 ERA through Thursday ranked sixth among qualifying relievers in the American League. ... Tyler Naquin’s 11 outfield assists was tied for third in the majors through Thursday. It’s the most by a Cleveland player since Michael Brantley’s 14 in 2014. ... Francisco Lindor entered Friday with a career batting average of .517 (15-for-29) off KC starter Jakob Junis, with three doubles, a triple, three homers and 10 RBIs. ... Saturday, 7:10, STO; WTAM 1100-AM, WMMS 100.7-FM. Clevinger (8-2, 3.11) vs. Sparkman (3-8, 5.40).
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or email@example.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @CAwesomeheimer.