CLEVELAND — Carlos Carrasco's return to the mound as he battles chronic myeloid leukemia has been a bigger-than-baseball story this season, and one that has had a constant impact on a clubhouse and baseball family that has supported one of their own.

Now, Carrasco is being joined by two teammates with charity pledges.

Carrasco this week launched Punchout Cancer with Cookie via his social media sites and announced that he'll pledge $200 for every strikeout he registers in September to cancer research. In honor of childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Carrasco has teamed up with New Balance and other players "dedicated to action and raising money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital," as stated on the website punchoutcancerwithcookie.com.

"I have cancer, but cancer doesn't have me," Carrasco said in a video posted to his Twitter and Instagram accounts. "I'm always happy. It's not like, 'OK, I'm going to be sad because I have this.' No. I cannot do that. I need to be strong." Carrasco added in his posts that he wants to "remind families that there is always hope."

Shane Bieber and Francisco Lindor then added their own pledges.

"With [Carrasco] returning back to the mound, we are reminded of how far positivity, faith, and resiliency can take us," Bieber wrote on social media. "To think he's back pitching after being diagnosed with Leukemia just a couple months ago is nothing short of inspiring. To support Cookie and all others affected by cancer, I'm pledging to donate $100 per strikeout for the month of September. The money donated will go directly towards funding childhood cancer research."

Wrote Lindor on his own social media pages: "Family is everything to me. What Cookie is going through is real. We are a team and also a family. He's our brother, we love him and we fight with him. In honor of Cookie and his courageous fight with cancer, I am pledging $1000 for every Indians win in September to Childhood Cancer research."

Homecoming spoiled

Carrasco returned to the mound at Progressive Field on Tuesday night for the first time since being diagnosed, but what followed didn't follow the ideal script.

The ovation he received as he jogged to the mound with "Summer of '69" playing was tremendous. The moment was bigger than baseball. Carrasco was given an extending ovation prior to pitching and even after a rough inning in which he gave up a three-run lead, two home runs and four runs altogether, Carrasco received another positive reception as he walked back to the dugout, albeit with a disappointing result.

"That was good. That was great, all the fans right there," Carrasco said of the ovation. "As soon as I started running down to the mound. That was great, it was unbelievable."

As for his rough inning, Carrasco's stuff looked OK to the Indians overall. But Carrasco hung a slider, and it was costly.

"What happened was I made a mistake," Carrasco said. "The two homers, it was a hanging slider. That’s what happened. That’s what cost us the game right there."

The Indians have put Carrasco in the bullpen rather than trying to stretch him out as a starter, with the hopes that he can be a high-leverage option late in games. Tuesday night was a bigger situation than his debut on Sunday. The Indians were wanting to ease him in, but they also liked the matchups on Tuesday night.

"Maybe I rushed into it a little bit, that’s what I was thinking about after the game," manager Terry Francona said. "But I really think for us to get where we’re going we’re gonna need him, so we gotta get him, not that he’s going to pitch tonight, get him back out there and get his legs under him. ... That’s why I kinda questioned myself last night, like, ‘Did I put him in a position that wasn’t fair to him?' "

Murky Kluber outlook

The Indians are still operating with a lot of unknown related to ace Corey Kluber (oblique). Kluber has been able to take part in some water-based exercises, according to Francona. But in terms of when he might be able to return to the rotation, more progression is needed, and the club is short on time.

Kluber was likely one rehab start away from rejoining the rotation in Cleveland. Now, the Indians must still wait as a result of his setback.

"He’s miserable about it, and it’s not his fault," Francona said. "When I see him I just say hello to him and ask him how he’s doing because I don’t want to press it. Because I don’t think that’s fair to him. He’s doing stuff in the water right now. He’s got a ways to go."

Ryan Lewis can be reached at rlewis@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.