The sample size is small — just 24 plate appearances — but the numbers still jump off the page. Four weeks into the season, Mike Carp is hitting a stratospheric.455/.500/.864. Seven of his 10 hits have gone for extra bases.
The 26-year-old outfielder will obviously come back to earth, but he still might be one of the best under-the-radar acquisitions of the off-season. The Red Sox acquired him from the Mariners in February for a PTBNL.
Carp was an enigma in Seattle. In parts of four seasons, he hit .255/.327/.413 and occasionally drove baseballs long distances. What he didn’t do is prove that he could stay healthy and provide consistent production. Jettisoned to Boston, he is intent on proving he is capable of both. Only time will tell, but Carp is swinging a hot bat.
Carp on his hot start: “Being healthy is a big part of it. I missed a lot of time last year with the shoulder injury, so it’s about finding my rhythm. The more reps I get, the better I see the ball and better rhythm I have.
“I wasn’t getting at bats the first couple weeks of the season, but I’ve gotten a few lately and that’s helped me lock in a little more. I feel great at the plate. I’m just trying to stay short and use the whole field. I’m going up there with a good plan and sticking to it. I kind of got away from it [Saturday] and had a rough night, but I rebounded [Sunday] and got back to what’s working for me.
“I’m itching for as many at bats as I can possibly get, but I also understand the concept of a team. We have a very deep bench and it’s nice to be able to keep guys fresh.”
On hitting at Fenway Park: “Hitting here is great. The fans, the team, the ballpark — that short porch in left field is very inviting to a left-handed hitter, especially one with some power. You can stay inside the ball and put it off the wall. For me, it’s all about reaction to the pitch. I try to use my hands on pitches away.
“I utilize the whole field. There are different dimensions at Fenway than at Safeco, and I’m able to use the opposite field to my advantage. I can hit a double off the wall, where as at Safeco it was a lazy fly ball that was caught.”
On hitting in pitcher-friendly parks: “You try not to think about that. You have a job, and that’s to hit the ball hard. That’s what I tried to do at Safeco. If the ball happened to fall in, it did. If it didn’t, tough luck. All I can do is try to make solid contact, and if the ball carries out of the ballpark, kudos to me.”
On his set-up and mechanical adjustments: “I have a taller stance and my hands are high. Basically, I’m trying not to stretch too far. Sometimes I get into the habit of leaning. I want to keep that rhythm of standing tall and staying back. I’ve always been a stand-up hitter with my hands high, and it’s worked so far in my career.
“If my hitting coach sees something, he’s going to say, ‘Hey, you’re doing this.’ You obviously listen to what he says, because any advice is not bad advice. You take what you can and try to apply it. Also, if I have a bad game, I’ll go back and look at the tape to see what I’m doing with my hands and my feet. I’ll make an adjustment from there.”
On video and preparation: “On game-day I’ll look at what the pitcher has done in his last few starts, particularly against left-handed hitters. You watch for tendencies. I’ll see if he likes to come in with a cutter, or if he’s a change-up guy I’ll make sure I’m staying back. You always want to have a plan before you step into the box.
“I watch a lot of video. I want to take advantage of technology as much as I can. It’s there for us, so why not utilize it? Anything that can help me be a more productive hitter.”