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Carlos Carrasco remains positive despite setbacks due to injury

Mets pitcher Carlos Carrasco during a spring training

Mets pitcher Carlos Carrasco during a spring training workout on Feb. 26 in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Carlos Carrasco’s first spring training with the Mets has been of the stop-and-start variety — mostly stop.

He began late because, he said, he had extra medical tests due to his history of leukemia. Then a sore elbow shut him down for a couple of days. And now a strained right hamstring has him sidelined for at least the first month of the season.

No matter, he said. His cancer-beating experience in 2019 has afforded him a kind of perspective few in baseball have.

"Man, I’ve been through a lot," Carrasco said Saturday at Clover Park, his first public comments since getting hurt Thursday. "When somebody told you that you had cancer, that’s completely different. With the elbow a couple of weeks ago, now this, I can say like I’ve said before: This is nothing for me. I can walk away from this. I’m just going to take it day by day and we go from there."

So Carrasco doesn’t fret. He will turn 34 on Sunday and is dealing with the second of two physical ailments this month, but he isn’t worried that injuries might be a reality he must face more frequently at his age and stage of his career.

"Everyone is a human being," he said. "If something happens, it’s going to happen, no matter if you’re 10, 20, 30s."

He isn’t worried that rushing to get ready for the season, after the previous delays, caused the leg problem.

"I wish I cannot have any injuries, but it happens," he said.

And he isn’t worried about when he might throw again, a step that might happen sooner rather than later if the medical staff allows him to keep doing upper-body work, as manager Luis Rojas said is a possibility.

"Whatever they say, I will do it," Carrasco said.

The hamstring strain ruined what had been a productive and positive couple of days for Carrasco, who had a shot at being ready for the start of the regular season. After throwing one inning of live batting practice Thursday, he finished his workout by doing sprints in the outfield, a normal part of a pitcher’s routine.

On the first half-dozen, nothing. On the seventh, pain.

"I didn’t feel any tightness, nothing like that. It just popped," he said.

Carrasco’s only other hamstring injury was on the left side in 2016. He missed about five weeks.

Mets sources said Thursday that they expect him to be out about six to eight weeks this time, though Carrasco and Rojas publicly have stuck to the party line, saying they don’t know how long he will be out.

"Whatever the timeline is, we can’t wait to have him back," said lefthander David Peterson, whose spot in the rotation is solidified by Carrasco’s absence. "We bring him in [via trade with Cleveland] and he’s a key to our rotation. He’s a very positive guy, from what I know so far. From everything I’ve heard, very hard worker, and I know he’s listening to what the trainers tell him."

The version of Carrasco that Rojas has gotten to know is the same version Carrasco presented Saturday.

"He’s been a pretty positive guy since the first day we got in touch," Rojas said. "This is a guy that’s been just through a lot of adversity in life. And to be the athlete that he is, the professional baseball player that he is, who has been so successful in his career — and also had those battles outside of the playing field."

And he’ll do it all without letting it get to him.

" ‘Frustrated’ is not a big word for me," Carrasco said. "I’ve been through a lot. This is nothing for me. I’m just going to get ready and pitch."

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