Seventeen months ago, Mike Carp literally limped through his second big-league call up, playing 13 September games, hitting all of .171 and winding up on the disabled list with plantar fascia.
Prospects for the then-24-year-old? Minimal.
So Carp decided to build a leaner, sleeker candidate, one with broader shoulders, a narrower waist and quicker bat.
And damned if didn’t work.
What the new-improved Carp did last year establish himself as a big-league hitter, tossing in 25 August RBI and a 20-game hitting streak – batting a solid .276 in 79 games, with 17 doubles, 12 home runs and 46 RBI.
Figure that as half a season, do the math and …
Carp went back to work last October, tinkering with the creature he’d created.
“My weight didn’t change this off-season, but my body fat dropped. I wanted to get a little more explosive with my first step, thinking of my outfield defense,” Carp said. “The funny thing is, the same work really translated to my swing.”
“I’m hitting everything on the barrel, ever if it’s only batting practice,” he said. “That is the plan – hit every pitch I swing at hard, with back spin, and find some gaps.”
Manager Eric Wedge, who assisted Carp last season, is impressed.
He set the tone for a lot of his teammates last year with the off-season work he did and the results it got him,” Wedge said. “He came in this spring in even better shape.
“He gives you a professional at-bat, he knows how to get a run home with an out. Carp has made himself a dangerous hitter.”
If the season began today, the Mariners lineup would start something like this:
Chone Figgins 3B
Dustin Ackley 2B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Mike Carp LF
Justin Smoak 1B
Jesus Montero DH