CLEVELAND — Drew Carey wasn't about to take seriously his performance in the 2019 Celebrity Softball Game.
But what he does take seriously is the chance for Cleveland to show off, and that's something the city can do again while hosting the 2019 All-Star Game this week.
Carey, an unofficial ambassador of Cleveland to the rest of the country and the host of "The Price is Right," took part in the Celebrity Softball Game on Sunday afternoon in a Team Cleveland vs. Team World matchup at Progressive Field. He joked that he had zero expectations for himself aside from simply trying to put the bat to the ball, noting he's not athletic and a 61-year-old game show host.
But other things about Cleveland, such as some growing inner-city neighborhoods, have caught his eye in a positive light.
"What I'm most happy about is I'm happy it's not like 'the' thing," Carey said of Cleveland hosting the All-Star Game. "It's a string of things that Cleveland does well and Cleveland can host and it's another way Cleveland can show off, to me. I think it's great. Stuff like this I just take for granted now. I thought we were always going to have good things like this happening and have events like this and have the city have a place to shine."
"I'm glad it's not like, 'Oh my God, this is our big chance, don't blow it.' That would be bad. But Cleveland's great and anytime we have a chance to show off like this and have everybody in town and have a good time, it's good."
Carey noted he was in his 30s before getting his big break, so he still considers it "insane" that he has a celebrity status. But he's been glad to see the city grow. It's even in the little things, like a Heinen's location being downtown.
"The hotel I'm staying in has a Heinen's right across the street. I never thought I'd see a Heinen's downtown," Carey said, laughing. "Are you kidding me? This is like the greatest thing ever. I'm more excited about that than I am about anything else."
Team World went on to beat Team Cleveland 21-16, but one of the biggest highlights of the game included Travis Hafner becoming the first participant to ever hit an actual home run — meaning a home run that not only cleared the shorter softball fence, but also the actual ballpark fence — in the game's history when he drilled a shot down the right-field line.
J.R. Smith, as he walked to the plate for his first at-bat, ripped off his shirt as a nod to his shirtless days after the Cavaliers' NBA championship and parade in 2016. He received a standing ovation and hit a little-league style home run, capped by his sneaking to home from third after Jennie Finch got the ball and had her back turned to the plate.
Later, Jim Thome's son, Landon, came in to pinch hit for his Hall of Famer father and ripped an RBI single up the middle and then advanced to second on the throw home.
Outfield prospect Daniel Johnson was having a terrific 2018 season before a wrist injury sidelined him and threatened to undo a great deal of positive momentum gained. Then, last winter, he was dealt to the Indians in a deal that sent Yan Gomes to Washington, and he had to start over with a new organization.
But since that time, he's continued to make positive impressions. Johnson had a strong spring, a terrific first half to the season between Double-A and Triple-A and, along with third baseman Nolan Jones, was one of the Indians' two starters in the 2019 Futures Game on Sunday.
Johnson, known for having a strong arm from any outfield spot, has hit .273 with an .873 OPS with 14 home runs, 21 doubles, 5 triples and 56 RBI in the minors this season. And much of it was validation and a chance to make up for lost time.
"It’s really a motivator," Johnson said on Sunday. "I was kind of under the radar last year with the injury and everything. After rehabbing everything, my biggest goal was to get back to where I was and be even better than I was before. I kept working hard and kept getting repetitions on and off the field. So, it worked out."
"It’s definitely dope to be here [this week]. To be playing in the ballpark that I want to play on in the future, seeing guys who played for Cleveland, seeing guys who I know, top guys from other teams ... It’s been a great experience so far."
Jones, the No. 2 prospect in the system according to MLB Pipeline, said when he found out he was named to the Futures Game he called his mom, and she immediately started crying. He said the entire experience had been "special," but that he also had some questions for another third baseman who came up through the Indians system — Jim Thome, who acted as the manager for the American League team.
“I definitely have some questions I’m gonna have to ask him about hitting," Jones said of Thome. "Just to see him, I’m starstruck, so it’s crazy for me. But, yeah, like I said, I’m definitely gonna have to take some time in the dugout to talk to him during the game and pick his brain a little bit.”
The Indians on Sunday provided additional details about Carlos Carrasco's leukemia diagnosis.
Specifically, Carrasco has been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a treatable form of leukemia. He has been cleared to resume strength and conditioning workouts and throwing activity to his tolerance. He will be re-evaluated on a regular basis and still has no timetable for a return to the mound.
New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso will be using his second cousin, Derek Morgan, as his Home Run derby pitcher Monday night.
Morgan is a 2010 graduate of Woodridge High School.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.