Carp back in the lineup after lengthy layoff

Carp back in the lineup after lengthy layoff
July 20, 2014, 1:15 pm
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(USA Today Sports Images)

BOSTON -- Mike Carp hasn't had an at-bat since the All-Star break, and it's been over a week since his last start. With Mike Napoli getting a day off on Sunday, though, Carp is getting the nod to play first base against the Royals.

Carp, who can play first base and left field, has often been relegated to a role as a lefthanded bat off Boston's bench with Napoli playing almost everyday and a verifiable log jam in the Sox outfield.

Manager John Farrell admitted before Sunday's game that Carp has a tough job, coming into the game without having seen much live pitching lately and having to face the young powerful arm of Royals righty Yordano Ventura.

"It's a difficult role," Farrell said. "Guys that have had success in that role usually have low maintenance swings. It's a compact swing. Jonny Gomes we've talked a lot about. Mike Carp is the lefthanded version of that.

"He's done a very good job of not being in a starting role, or getting an at-bat over a three-to-seven day span and you insert him and he puts up a quality at-bat. You begin to empathize with the role that they're in because he's going up against a guy today that's thrown in the high 90s and hasn't seen an at-bat since the All-Star break. It's a difficult spot. But because of the way his swing is built, that's why he's able to thrive or perform than maybe some other guys in that role."

Carp is in an interesting position on the Red Sox roster at the moment. While it is uncertain when Will Middlebrooks will be activated off of his rehab assignment in Pawtucket -- it could be as many as 18 days before that happens -- a roster move will need to be made to accommodate for the power-hitting third baseman.

As colleague Sean McAdam pointed out earlier this week, there aren't many options for the Red Sox, and the most logical move may be to deal off either Gomes or Carp in a trade.

While Gomes is a known commodity -- a masher of lefthanded pitching and a good veteran presence for any clubhouse -- Carp offers something different.

At 28 years old, he's still in the prime of his career and could benefit from a change in scenery where he'd get more regular at-bats.

For a contending team looking for a lefthanded hitter who brings some defensive versatility, it would make sense to take a shot at Carp and see how the compact swing that the Red Sox so appreciate would play in a more consistent role.