New York Mets pitcher Carlos Carrasco brings more to the club than just his pitching.
The New York Mets continue to seek and land quality players this offseason. Statistics aside, I have made it a point in a number of my previous articles that the personal uniqueness that a player brings to the table is no less of an asset to the ballclub than performance on the field.
One could say that most ballplayers around the league bring something positive to the clubhouse – it could be involvement with a foundation they set up, doing community work, engaging in a particular hobby, demonstrating a glowing personality, offering a veteran presence, or showing leadership qualities. Sometimes distraction and negativity enter the picture.
Whenever a ballplayer is confronted with a serious medical challenge, especially if it is life-threatening, word travels fast around the league. Not too long ago while pitching for Cleveland, our newest Met, starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a cancer characterized by the rapid growth of abnormal cells that build up in the bone marrow and blood and interfere with normal blood cell production.
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Unless someone has in the past or is now facing a cancer diagnosis, it is hard to imagine what thoughts go through one’s mind upon receiving such news, and even more unimaginable how one copes moving forward.
It takes a special human being to carry the torch of hope and positivity. Carrasco’s approach was: “This is what I have,” he told the media in a story reported by Duane Cross, an MiLB.com contributor. “I want to get stronger, working on myself. The only thing I put [in my mind] is good thoughts, never bad. Just coming back home, with my family, I forget what I had.”
That mindset earned him the 2019 Roberto Clemente Award and the 2020 Comeback Player of the Year.
Carlos Carrasco picked up the nickname “Cookie” while with his former ballclub as he was seen eating cookies with milk in the clubhouse one day back in 2011. But Carrasco has also earned a fourth “C” attached to his name – Courageous. You see, he beat the cancer, and not only that, he made it back onto the baseball field – no small feat.
Throwing 96mph at his successful first inning back on the mound with the Akron RubberDucks in the AA Eastern League, he instantly became a source of inspiration to people such as Zach Shafon who wrote in an article that appeared last year in clesportstalk.com:
"“Carrasco is an inspiration for me and should be for many others in the sick community. He was able to battle such a horrific illness and not just recover but pitch in the MLB again in the same season…No matter what happens out on the diamond, you’ll always be a hero to many.”"
After the rehab game Carrasco told reporters back in August 2019 :
"“Those two-and-a-half months for me were unbelievable. I learned a lot and I worked a lot on myself too. It was a lot of emotion…my family has always been there. I was really excited to see my kids smile.”"
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And hopefully, those smiles will continue to appear on the faces of his family, on the faces of his teammates in the clubhouse and dugout, as well as on the faces of all Mets fans as he brings his pitching prowess to heroic levels in 2021 and beyond.