Carlos Carrasco’s journey back to the majors after stepping away for leukemia treatment is nearly complete.

The Cleveland Indians’ pitcher is set to return to the team on Sunday as a September call-up from the Triple-A Columbus Clippers, where he last pitched on a rehab assignment earlier this week. He has one more planned outing on Thursday for Columbus, Indians Manager Terry Francona said on Wednesday, and when he rejoins the big league roster, the team will use him out of the bullpen.

“When he started throwing bullpens, just to see his face light up and have him in the dugout and see our guys react to him was really cool,” Francona told MLB Radio Network. “And we said, ‘If these bullpens lead to him pitching for us, that’s kind of icing on the cake,’ but what’s really more important, and by a big distance, is his wellness. And he just seems so excited to be back pitching again, and we’re excited to have him. He’s a big part of us and he knows that. He knows he’s cared about. But it’s going to be fun having him back.”

Carrasco’s return will be more than an emotional lift for Cleveland. The Indians will also get back a tenured big league starter with postseason experience as they try to chase down Minnesota in the American League Central or hold on to the AL’s first wild-card spot.

Cleveland already had the MLB’s best bullpen with a 3.38 ERA headed into Wednesday night’s games.

Carrasco comes back with a career 3.78 ERA, an 83-68 record and a top-five finish in AL Cy Young award voting in 2017.

He left the team June 5, with what was then described as a “blood condition” and he was “stepping away from baseball activities to explore the optimal treatment and recovery options.” A month later, he revealed that condition was leukemia, a form of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow.

“I never thought I’d have something like this because I played baseball and I’m super healthy or something like that,” Carrasco, 32, said at the time in a video released by the team. “But you never know what’s going on inside your body.

“When I found that out, it made me even stronger. I’m going to push myself to work through this. I have a lot of people behind me helping me – especially my teammates and my family and a lot of people around me. They make me stronger every day. This is going to make me stronger than I’ve ever been.”

He spent time after announcing his diagnosis with pediatric cancer patients at the Cleveland Clinic, and returned to pitching, first with the Double-A Akron Rubber Ducks then with Columbus earlier this month.

During his first appearance on Aug. 19, he received a standing ovation from fans as he jogged in from the bullpen and another standing cheer after he struck out the final batter of the inning. He told the Associated Press he was nervous before throwing his first pitch, but felt comfortable afterward.

“Right away I looked back to the scoreboard because I just wanted to find out what was that pitch, and it was 97 (mph),” Carrasco said. “It feels great.”

YANKEES: Luis Severino’s first minor league rehab start will come on Sunday in Scranton instead of Trenton, Yankees Manager Aaron Boone announced. The right-hander will pitch in his first game since 2018 and try to get back before the end of the regular season.

“We just want him there in that environment,” Boone said. “He’ll go there Sunday and I believe (Jordan Montgomery) is actually going to throw there on Friday.”

Severino was warming up for his first spring training game when he felt pain in his shoulder. That turned into a six-month saga of injuries that went from the rotator cuff inflammation he was diagnosed with in March to a strained lat muscle.

With a week left in the minor league regular season, the Yankees are not certain about how stretched out they can get him. They have talked about doing that work in the big leagues, using him in short spurts, perhaps out of the bullpen.

“I don’t know if it’s necessarily where he can immediately help us. It’s what makes the most sense in building him up the right way so he can impact us the most down the stretch and hopefully into the postseason,” Boone said. “We’ll get through Sunday and make that evaluation about what is the next best step for him. The idea is that he will go a couple of innings, 35 pitches, probably throw another 10 pitches following the game to build him up. Then we’ll see what we do from there.”
• Giancarlo Stanton took batting practice on the field for the first time Tuesday night and the Yankees think he will progress to live at-bats “soon.” That still leaves a very vague timeline for his possible return.

Stanton, who is now rehabbing a right knee sprain, said earlier this month he would like a few weeks of at-bats before the playoffs.

TIGERS: Ron Gardenhire says he’d like to return next season as Detroit’s manager, but he’ll understand whatever decision the Tigers make about his future.

Gardenhire is in his second season, and it was obvious when he took over that the team would be facing a significant rebuild. Detroit went 64-98 last year and is on pace to lose well over 100 games in 2019.

Gardenhire says he has a contract for next year, but the organization has to decide if he’ll be back.

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