(This 2009 blog entry helps explain why Carter will always be one of my favorites)
Chris spent nearly all of last year with the New York Mets, and I was not aware that he had signed with the Tampa Bay organization in early January.
“I did well as a pinch-hitter in the NL East and I thought that I could pinch-hit or even get a chance to start with Tampa Bay,” Carter told me. “I thought the opportunity was wide-open at the time. Then about four days after I signed, Tampa Bay added Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon so it didn’t work out that way. It was rough, but that’s baseball.”
Chris did spent most of this spring in the Rays’ major league camp, batting .303 (10-for-33) in 22 exhibition games.
“I just got sent down three days ago,” Carter said. “I did well – I hit over .300 and played the 7th, 8th, and 9th inning of every game. I kind of had the attitude of, ‘Whatever happens, just make the most of it.’ I was happy with how I did.”
The 28-year-old outfielder/first baseman, opened last season in Buffalo and was batting .336 when he got promoted to the Mets on May 11th. In his first game with New York, Chris delivered a game-winning pinch-hit double and wound up on the back page of both New York tabloids.
“That whole at-bat I was thinking, ‘God…I didn’t get any sleep last night,’” Chris said with a smile. “I was eight or nine Red Bulls deep and I thought my heart was going to explode. It ended up working out for the best.”
Carter batted .263 with 4 HR and 24 RBI in 100 games with the Mets, including a .328 average as a pinch-hitter. He also earned a new nickname from manager Jerry Manuel for his hyperactive personality: “The Animal.”
“The manager said it was because I worked hard and had great intensity,” Carter said. “It was good for me, it was good for the fans, and I really enjoyed it.
“I had such a great time with the Mets. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I loved New York, I loved the fans, and we did well in the first half. Even when we started losing, I still appreciated every moment that I was there.”
Carter also has fond memories of the two-plus years he spent with Pawtucket – especially since it’s where he met his wife Emily.
“She’s from Cape Cod but she went to the University of Rhode Island,” Carter said. “I’ve got a lot of ties to Rhode Island and I had such a great time playing in Pawtucket. It’s where I found my wife and it was really a great situation for me.”
It was great to see Chris today. Here’s hoping that the next time that I see him, it will be on TV in a Tampa Bay Rays uniform.
* * * * *
Here’s the lineup (and batting order) that took the field for Pawtucket on Tuesday in Ft. Myers in a 7-2 win over Durham:
Yamaico Navarro – 3B
Josh Reddick – RF
Ryan Kalish – CF
Luis Exposito – C
Lars Anderson – 1B
Juan Carlos Linares – LF
Jose Iglesias – SS
Aaron Bates – DH
Ryan Khoury – 2B
Felix Doubront – Starting Pitcher
Can you say 144-0?
OK, so the PawSox aren’t going to go undefeated, but that’s a pretty formidable Triple-A lineup and it figures to get even stronger by Opening Night at McCoy Stadium (April 7). Nate Spears and Drew Sutton are still with Boston, but one of them is likely to be Pawtucket’s starting second baseman. Additionally, outfielder Daniel Nava should be back in action soon after recovering from a sprained ankle.
Doubront looked strong on Tuesday as he tossed two scoreless innings with a pair of strikeouts. Felix experience elbow discomfort early in training camp and is expected to stay behind in Florida when the PawSox head north. He’s likely to spend an extra week or two in Ft. Myers before joining Pawtucket.
There was sad news at camp on Tuesday as Boston released former PawSox Lenny DiNardo and Jorge Jimenez.
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