FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Mike Carp is eager for his new start with his new team in a new season, and seems ready to finally forget the nightmare that was 2012.
After all, with three stints on the disabled list and an injury in his first game last year, it couldn’t have been much worse.
Playing left field for Seattle on opening night last year, Carp was injured trying to make a diving catch. It was the first time he was on a season-opening roster and wanted to impress. Instead, he suffered a right shoulder sprain and was on the disabled list until May 1. And he didn’t even make the catch.
Fast forward to Friday. After being acquired by Boston Wednesday, his mood — and his uniform — had changed dramatically.
“When you think about the tradition, everything that goes on, it’s one of baseball’s premier teams,” he said. “Just excited to be a part of it. Look forward to the opportunity that I get here.”
After the Mariners acquired Kendrys Morales, Mike Morse, and Raul Ibanez in the offseason, Seattle designated Carp for assignment on Feb. 13. The Red Sox then acquired him in a trade.
Carp, who turns 27 in June, was a ninth-round pick of the Mets in 2004, before a three-team trade in December 2008 sent him to Seattle. He made his debut in 2009, and is a career .255 hitter with a .327 on-base percentage. He was limited to just 59 games with the Mariners last season, batting .213.
Carp will be among a group of players, including Daniel Nava, Lyle Overbay, and Mark Hamilton, vying for the job to back up first baseman Mike Napoli and left fielder Jonny Gomes. Carp was placed on Boston’s 40-man roster and is out of options. But, he knows the job is not guaranteed.
“It’s always a competition,” he said. “Somebody’s always trying to take your job. So you got to stay hungry, you got to stay healthy, and keep at it. I saw some of the roster guys, saw how they put it together. It’s anybody’s game. You got to perform. If you don’t perform, you don’t make the team.
“So that’s all I’m going to do. Go out and do the best of my capabilities and hopefully at the end of the day make the roster.”
Including his shoulder injury, Carp missed a total of 78 games while on the disabled list last season. Inflammation in his right shoulder sidelined him from June 11-July 24, and a left groin strain kept him out from Aug. 13-Sept. 4. It was frustrating after playing in a career-high 79 games in 2011, batting .276 with 12 homers and 46 RBIs.
“I had a lot of expectations coming into last year,” he said. “Big 2011, finally getting an opportunity to play. And it was just one of those tough luck plays. It’s opening night. You can’t really write a better story than getting hurt opening night, I guess. I think it’s made me mentally tough and definitely kept me hungry for this year. Excited to be healthy for this season.”
Carp did not require surgery to repair his shoulder, just rest and rehabilitation. It is back to full strength now.
“Yeah, it took some time,” he said. “It was a pretty significant injury. But toward the end of the season, that second stint on the DL (for the shoulder) really helped. We went through the whole rehab process, and been feeling pretty normal ever since.”
Carp had not yet reported to spring training when the Mariners designated him. He passed his physical with the Red Sox Friday, but will likely need a few days to get up to speed.
“Got on the field today and we’ll get him into a (simulated) game tomorrow where (Clay) Buchholz and (Franklin) Morales are throwing, just to begin to see some live pitching,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Not going to say we’re going to put him through a crash course here, but today’s the first day he’s been in camp either here or in Seattle. So he’ll catch up to speed quick.
“In fairness to him, we’ve got to get him some rhythm and see some live pitching and see some drill work. But we would use him (at both first base and left field).”
Carp believes the Red Sox are a good fit for him. With a small sample size, he has had success at Fenway Park. In four games, he is batting .286 there, with two home runs.
All told, he has appeared in just 173 games since 2009. He has played 82 games at first base, 52 in left field, and one in right.
“Working hard on both,” he said of playing first and left. “I feel pretty healthy. So I’m going to try to get out there to the outfield, try to perform out there. Take my reps at both spots and just try to make the team.”