March 15, 2011
GOODYEAR, Ariz. — There are only so many ways to move the needle in a routine spring training game and I happened to see three of them in headline-making action at the Oakland Athletics-Cleveland Indians game on Monday afternoon at Goodyear Ballpark.
The first, unfortunately, was seeing someone sustain an injury of some kind.
Even worse, it happened to A's reliever Andrew Bailey(notes), one of baseball's truly nice guys and a pitcher who deserves better than more elbow problems and another fact-finding trip to Dr. James Andrews' office.
The second was to see a "name" pitcher struggle through his scheduled appearance, a role that both Cleveland's Justin Masterson(notes) (five earned runs in four innings) and Oakland's Dallas Braden(notes) (four earned runs in four) were probably not very happy about filling.
The third was to see a slugger absolutely murder a baseball, something that Oakland giant Chris Carter managed not only once, but twice off Cleveland pitcher Jeanmar Gomez(notes). Both shots, of course, were of the tape-measure variety — the sixth-inning shot slammed off the scoreboard above the left field berm, and the eighth-inning version went opposite field, bounced off the party plaza in right field and completely left the stadium. Seeing that kind of brute power from the 24-year-old slugger who's well-known for that sort of thing but still trying to gain a roster spot was pretty cool
"I haven't been hitting many balls in the air, so I was just trying to get through and drive the first one," Carter said after his first two homers of the spring. "The second one that went to right I was just trying to stay through it and get it up in the air, too."
Though Carter faces a roster logjam in the outfield and at first base, he has done a good job at the plate this spring. Despite his famous power not surfacing until Monday, he has hit .250/.372/.444 with seven RBIs and seven walks through 36 at-bats. Whether or not that is good enough to make the team is ultimately up to Billy Beane, but there's no doubt who the fans would like to see after a smiling Carter was the only A's player to stay and sign autographs for the traveling A's fans after the game.
"You've made us fans for life!" one yelled.