William Chris Carter, the minor league baseball player better known to Mets fans as Chris, is in spring training with the New York Mets attempting to demonstrate that he should be part of the major league ball club.Â I’ve been reading a lot about him recently in an attempt to gather information and turn it into a nice story about a nice young man as he finds his way to the major leagues.Â But like Chris Carter (at least so far) I’ve been unable to put all the elements together.Â There’s a missing piece but I can’t figure out what it is.Â So instead of a well crafted Pulitzer consideration worthy post for the blog we have a pile of facts, a “link-o-rama” of sorts to various moments in the career of Chris Carter.Â May he be more successful than I have been in putting all the pieces together.Â And if he could do that in the next 10 days that would be great.Â I wish him good luck.
Stanford.com has a great look at Carter entitled Strong Character Shines Through which includes the following passage: “One of my favorite memories of playing came last year,” Carter remembered. We (the team) were coming back from Reno. My friend and I had both had a good game that day. While we were on the bus, we helped each other with our homework. To me, this is what being a college baseball player is about.”
Futurebacks.com sums up the highs and lows of Carter’s college and early pro career well.Â This is just one tidbit, which I paraphrase:Â Carter was highly recruited entering college and honored that Stanford was interested.Â He wanted to go there but had one caveat which was don’t ask me to change my swing.Â They assured him they wouldn’t, then did and when he didn’t respond favorably they benched him.Â When pro scouts came to look at players, the coaches didn’t suggest they check out Carter.Â Instead they said he had an attitude problem and couldn’t hit lefties.Â Thus Carter was not selected until the 17th round of the draft by Arizona (at the behest of Mike Rizzo, then Diamondbacks scouting director and now GM of the Washington Nationals).
Scout.com notes:Â Scouting Director Mike Rizzo took a flyer on a kid who obviously had power but A) couldn’t play defense and B) couldn’t hit left handed pitching. The jury is still out on the defense, though the Diamondbacks were incredibly impressed with his improvement at both first base and left field during the offseason. As for hitting lefties, he has destroyed them.
His first stop in pro ball was the Yakima Bears of the low A Northwest League.Â Yakima.net notes:Â In 2004, Chris hit 15 home runs and set the single season record of 63 runs batted in for Yakima. However, he is best remembered in the Northwest League for his power display in winning the home run derby competition at the Leagueâ€™s 50th Anniversary All-Star Celebration.
That All-Star game took place in Spokane and the Spokane Spokesman-News notes the presence of another Mets minor leaguer in that home run derby and subsequent game:Â Spokaneâ€™s participant in the derby will be catcher Mike Nickeas, who has hit eight home runs thus far and leads the Indians with a batting average of .338.
Paul’s Ballparks is a blog kept by a gentleman named Paul Hamman who has visited many major and minor league ballparks across North America.Â Among the things he witnessed when in Yakima in 2004:Â Two homers for Chris Carter set the table for the Bears’ win in my inaugural visit.
Carter continued to hit for average and for power and moved rapidly through the Arizona system.Â In 2007 at age 24 and well into his second consecutive season with the AAA Tucson Sidewinders, reporting his trade to the Boston Red Sox the Tucson Citizen noted Carter’s frustration at being stuck in the minors:Â Carter grew frustrated after the regular season started and talked of wanting to be traded. He saw little future with Conor Jackson at first base for Arizona. The Sidewinders have also used Chad Tracy and Tony Clark at first base.
In 2008 Carter finally got his wish.Â He made it to the major leagues.Â MLB.com notes:Â With slugger David Ortiz sent to the disabled list with a partially torn ECU tendon sheath in his left wrist, the Red Sox called up outfielder Chris Carter before Tuesday night’s game against the Rays at Fenway Park.Â Carter, who has yet to play in a Major League game, is in his first full season with the Red Sox organization after coming over in a trade that sent Wily Mo Pena to the Nationals in August.Â The 25-year-old Carter got the nod over another potential candidate to fill the roster spot, PawSox teammate Brandon Moss, who was named the International League batter of the week. While both players were swinging hot bats, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said the move was a way to reward Carter for his strong play while letting Moss get more regular work while recovering from an appendectomy in early May.
Carter’s first appearance in a major league game was overshadowed by multiple events, one of which would not bode well for Carter.Â ESPN.com notes:Â TV cameras showed (Manny) Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis being separated after exchanging words in the dugout at the end of the fourth inning. Ramirez pointed at Youkilis before being escorted down the runway toward the clubhouse by trainer Paul Lessard and a few players.
Carter went 2 for 3 with 2 singles and 2 runs scored in the game, but unfortunately for him something other than the brawl that would lead to the trade of Manny Ramirez went wrong that night for the Sox.Â Boston.com notes:Â Â (Jacoby) Ellsbury made a tremendous diving catch in right-center in the fourth inning to rob Evan Longoria of extra bases, but he rolled over on his right wrist.Â You could see his wrist bend and hit the grass with force. Before Ellsbury sat up, he removed his glove and writhed in pain, trying to flex his wrist. Trainer Paul Lessard attended to Ellsbury, who strolled off the field, the scene appearing ominous. Boston now needed someone on the roster capable of playing CF, so 2 days after being recalled from the minors Carter was sent back to make room for Brandon Moss, the very player who he had narrowly beaten out for the promotion in the first place.
When rosters expanded that September, Carter returned and went 4 for 15 with 3 RBI, 2 walks and 5 strikeouts to finish 2008 with a major league line of .333/.400/.733 in 20 plate appearances.Â In 2009 Carter made the Sox out of spring training but once again a CF made his stay short.Â Carter was optioned to AAA Pawtucket April 24th when CF Jonathan Van Every was activated from the disabled list.Â He spent the rest of the season there, in part because of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.Â ESPN’s Buster Olney chronicles that major league setback for Carter, noting:Â Â When the New York Mets and Red Sox worked out a trade for left-handed reliever Billy Wagner earlier this week, Chris Carter, an outfielder-first baseman currently playing for Triple-A Pawtucket, became part of the deal as a player to be named headed to Boston, sources said. In preparation for the deal, the Red Sox placed Carter on waivers, with the intention of moving him on to the Mets.Â But the Yankees, sources said, placed a claim on Carter — perhaps to create some 40-man roster discomfort for the Red Sox. In order to complete the Wagner trade, the Red Sox are now pulling Carter back from waivers, and for the rest of the year they must carry him on their 40-man roster.
With less than 2 weeks left in 2010 spring training, Carter is once again faced with roster machinations standing between him and a major league job.Â Perhaps this time will be the charm.