Chris Carter: “I want to prove I deserve to be here”

Evan Brunell@evanbrunellFeatured ColumnistSeptember 14, 2008

From the frigid days of April through the sweltering days of August, outfielder Chris Carter was consistent for the Pawtucket Red Sox.

Carter, who turns 26 on Sept. 16, was the proverbial player to be named later from Washington last August in the Wily Mo Pena deal.

En route to being voted to the International League’s post-season All-Star Team, Carter belted 24 home runs (which ranked seventh in the league), drove in 81 runs (which ranked ninth) and batted an even .300.

“Chris swung the bat well all season,” said Pawtucket Red Sox manager Ron Johnson of his young outfielder who earned a September promotion to Boston. “He lived up to what we had heard about him when he came over here last year.

“He gave us a professional at-bat each time up. I feel he has good knowledge of the strike zone. He trusts his hands and his ability enough to where he’s not afraid to hit with two strikes.”

Carter, who was a teammate of Jed Lowrie at Stanford, essentially is a combination of Nomar Garciaparra and Wade Boggs.

Like Garciaparra, Carter invariably steps away from the plate between pitches and “adjusts” his batting gloves. He waves his bat and doesn’t stop until he’s ready to swing.

Carter this season even wore Garciaparra’s No. 5.

And like Boggs, he studies hitting and loves to talk about it.

“I work on it all the time,” he said. “I have a lot of drills that I do … a lot of one-hand drills that I work on.

“They include everything, especially staying back with two strikes.”

Carter also forced himself as much as possible not to dive over the plate.

“I focus on staying on top of the plate and not diving back, especially on curve balls,” he said. “Sometimes a curveball looks like it’s going to be more inside.

“I try to keep my front shoulder in.”

Carter hit only .234 with one home run and four RBI in 12 late-season games last year with Pawtucket. But this year he picked up where he left off in 2007 when he hit a robust .326 with Tucson replete with 18 homers and 84 RBI.

Interestingly, his father, Bill Carter Jr., was a big Red Sox fan when he was growing up. In fact when Bill Jr. was eight his father Bill Carter Sr. took him to Cleveland’s old Municipal Stadium to watch Boston and Ted Williams play the Tribe.

Not only did Williams belt a home run, but a foul ball off his bat was grabbed by Bill Sr., Chris’s grandfather.

Earlier this season, when Carter first was called up by Boston (to replace a suspended Coco Crisp), Bill Sr. was in the stands at Fenway Park.

Even more noteworthy is the fact that Bill Sr. is legally blind.

“When I was drafted by Arizona (in 2004) I never thought I would every play left field for Boston,” said Chris Carter. “My grandfather was able to be on hand for my first (major league) hit which was awesome.”

After Carter was returned to Pawtucket grandfather Bill was in the McCoy Stadium stands when Chris homered against Buffalo.

“I sleep well now,” added Carter. “I feel differently. Instead of just getting to the big leagues I want to stay. I want to prove that I deserve to be here … I really do.”