Player Profile: Among the many things that went right for the Red Sox last season, the spring training acquisition of Mike Carp from the Seattle Mariners turned out to be one of general manager Ben Cherington’s master strokes.
At the time, with Mike Napoli already on board to play first base, acquiring Carp seemed like an afterthought. He had battled a variety of injuries the previous season in Seattle and appeared to be another prospect washout.
But coming to Boston seemed to revive his career because he was finally able to find his niche as a part-time outfielder/first baseman and pinch hitter extraordinaire.
2013 Season and Recent History: Cherington must have seen the flashes of potential Carp, still only 27 years old, showed in Seattle in 2011 when in 290 at-bats he put together a line of .276/.326/.791 with 12 HR and 46 RBI. Solid numbers for a part-time player who maybe deserved more of a look.
He got it with the Red Sox in 2013 and rewarded Cherington’s best instincts.
Last season in 216 at-bats he put up a stat line of .296/.362/.885 with 9 HR and 43 RBI and was a great insurance policy for Napoli in case he had any issues with his hip. Napoli ended up not needing Carp as a caddy for the most part.
But with Shane Victorino in and out of the lineup with many nagging injuries during the season, Carp turned out to be a good 4th/5th outfielder as well. He played a credible left field and got big hits when given the opportunity.
No hit was bigger, of course, than the grand slam he hit in Tampa Bay off Roberto Hernandez in the top of the tenth inning to essentially finish the Rays in the division race.
Carp was the epitome of what made the 2013 Red Sox World Series champions: a hard nosed, moderately talented player who knew his exact role on the team, concentrated on excelling at it and, when given the chance, contributed.
2014 Outlook: With Napoli back at first base and a year older and Jacoby Ellsbury in New York, expect plenty of opportunities for Carp to contribute. Now that he has found his way to fit in on a roster, expect more of the same good play from him.