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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — On the same day the Cleveland Indians said hello again to Michael Brantley, they said see ya later to starter Carlos Carrasco.
As Brantley was welcomed back following shoulder surgery and months of recovery, the Indians placed Carrasco on the disabled list Monday with a strained left hamstring that could sideline him for six weeks.
Brantley made his season debut with a pinch-hit appearance in the eighth inning of a 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Monday night. The left fielder was an All-Star and finished third in the AL MVP voting in 2014, but he injured his right shoulder while trying to make a diving catch in Minnesota on Sept. 22.
"Not only is he one of the better hitters in the game, but he's kind of the heart and soul of this team," manager Terry Francona said. "He's a really good teammate. He's a really good player. He's a really good influence. It'll be really good to have him."
The excitement for Brantley's return was tempered somewhat by the loss of Carrasco, a significant blow to Cleveland's staff that will test the club's pitching depth.
The 29-year-old Carrasco got hurt while covering first base in the third inning of his start Sunday in Detroit. As he approached the bag, Carrasco's leg weakened and he dropped to the ground in obvious pain. Carrasco attempted to get up, but grabbed the back of his leg and had to be helped off the field.
He returned to Cleveland for an MRI, which the team said revealed a moderate strain. The right-hander, who had a breakout 2015 with 14 wins and 216 strikeouts in 30 starts, will be out for at least one month, which came as a relief to Francona, who said the team initially feared that he would face a much longer recovery if the muscle separated from the bone.
"Missing him for, whether it's a month or two, is not fun," Francona said. "But now, it will be like (the front office) made a really good trade for a pitcher in June and we'll get him back. ... It's not like he hurt his arm. He'll come back and that will give us a big lift."
Trevor Bauer, who replaced Carrasco on Sunday and pitched 3 1/3 innings to get the win, is expected to take Carrasco's spot in the rotation while he recovers.
Brantley started the season on the DL following right shoulder surgery in October. The 28-year-old had hoped to be ready for the start of the season but was slowed in the final weeks of spring training. He recently made two minor league rehab appearances and the Indians are thrilled to have their best all-around player back in the lineup.
"Of course I wanted to be back earlier, but we took the smart approach and I'm healthy and excited to be back with this team," Brantley said.
At 9-8, the Indians have weathered Brantley's loss on offense.
"I made a little joke, don't let me put a wrinkle in it," Brantley said. "Let's keep going boys. They're swinging the bats well right now. Everybody's pulling for one another."
AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.
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