Mullen on the Minors: Healthy Carpenter looking to shake 'PTBNL' label

Mullen on the Minors: Healthy Carpenter looking to shake 'PTBNL' label
August 16, 2012, 6:46 pm
Share This Post

PAWTUCKET, R.I. Right-hander Chris Carpenter has had a little bit of everything this season. A trade. Joining a new team. An injury shortly after that. Surgery. An extensive rehab. A return to health.

Yeah, it definitely didnt start out the way I wanted it to, Carpenter said. But thats in the past and Im looking to the future and the right now and happy with where Im at.

Theres just one more thing hed like to accomplish this season. A call-up to the major league team.

Obviously everybody here wants to get to the big leagues at some point, he said. Thats what everybodys playing for. So its a goal of mine and whether it happens or doesnt happen, its not going to change how I got out there and approach the game. But, as far as goals go thats definitely one of them.

Carpenter, 26, was acquired by the Red Sox in February from the Cubs as part of the compensation package for former general manager Theo Epstein. He was a third-round pick of the Cubs in 2008 out of Kent State. Shortly after the Sox acquired him, bone chips were found in his right elbow. At the end of March, after appearing in just three spring training games (including one B game) for the Sox, Carpenter underwent surgery. He worked his way back through rehab stops with the rookie Gulf Coast League team in Fort Myers, Single-A Greenville, Double-A Portland, and Triple-A Pawtucket.

Carpenter, who is on the 40-man roster, was finally activated off the disabled list July 31 and optioned to Pawtucket. He earned a save that day, pitching a scoreless inning with two hits and a strikeout, against ScrantonWilkes-Barre. Since being activated he has made five appearances, pitching an inning in each, without allowing a run, giving up three runs, with five strikeouts.

It was a big surprise, the whole trade was a big surprise, he said. The first week, I was just trying to find my place and fit in and get to know some of the people there. And it was just an unfortunate thing. After a couple of games, just finding out about my injury and having to take care of it. But it was four months. It was hard down there. But right now it was worth it. I feel a lot better, and happy with where Im at in the season.

In all this season, hes made 17 appearances, spanning 18 innings, with a record of 1-0 (2.00 ERA) this season, giving up four earned runs on 10 hits and eight walks, with 22 strikeouts. Including his rehab appearances, he has had 12 outings for Pawtucket, spanning 12 innings, with a record of 1-0, two saves, and a 0.75 ERA, allowing just one run on six hits and six walks with 14 strikeouts. In his second outing, July 17 against Syracuse, he needed just nine pitches, seven strikes, to retire the side, with two strikeouts.

Hes done a nice job, said Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler. His velocitys been good. Hes down in the zone, really tight slider. Been very impressed with what weve seen out of him. Hes done a nice job. I think hes only had maybe one outing where he hasnt been real consistent with his command. But for the other five or six or seven that hes thrown here hes been very impressive.

Beyeler got to see Carpenter from a different perspective last season in the Arizona Fall League, when Beyeler managed Scottsdale and Carpenter pitched for Mesa. The differences?

Hes down in the zone a lot better now than when we saw him out there, Beyeler said. Out in the Fall League he was up in the zone with a lot of stuff. Even though he was real effective, it was up. Hes been down consistently and very impressive here. Overall, the consistencys been really good. His outings have been really good.

Carpenter has experience with injuries and surgeries and rehabs. Hes now had three surgeries on his elbow, including Tommy John in 2005 while at Kent State.

This one was not nearly as bad, he said. Not trying to downplay any injury, but it wasnt as bad. Plus, I knew kind of what it took to get back from an injury like that with the elbow. So definitely the easiest of the three elbow surgeries that Ive had.

Carpenter has no limitations or restrictions on him now.

Nothing, said Pawtucket pitching coach Rich Sauveur. Weve thrown him back-to-back days, threw him two innings when he first got here, and right now were just doing one-inning stints with him. No limitations.

I think hes proven everything, if you ask me. Hes done a nice job here. Hes been somebody that weve been able to go to and hes done a very nice job.

Hes been very consistent. Good velocity. For the most part, the fastball command has been good, Sliders a plus slider, and stuff that could help the Red Sox.

Carpenter has been used, for the most part, late in games, appearing every-other day or every-third day, in priority situations. He could be a candidate for a September call-up when rosters expand.

For now, though, hes not focused on that.

I feel like if you set a date for yourself, it's kind of unfair for yourself because then youre just always looking forward to that date and then you might not take what youre doing today serious, he said. So Im not setting any dates for when Im going to be there. But, Ill just do what I do here and then hopefully at some point.