Chris Carter wants to re-awaken his career
When he makes contact, his bat couldn’t produce more noise.
As for the man himself, Chris Carter is generally so quiet that past teammates have nicknamed him “Sleepy.”
“Nice guy, soft-spoken, big teddy bear,” the 6-foot-4, 245-pound Carter said Wednesday. “I’ve heard them all.”
Signed last week to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, he was brought in as possible insurance should one of the Angels regulars get injured, and also because of his immense power.
Carter tied for the National League lead with 41 home runs in 2016 while playing with Milwaukee. Deep into May that season, he still had more homers than singles. He also hit 37 home runs for Houston in 2014.
Of course, if he doesn’t make contact, Carter’s bat sounds just like everyone else’s when they whiff, and he twice has struck out more than 200 times in a season.
“He’s got that stupid power,” said Angels catcher Martin Maldonado, who played with Carter in Milwaukee. “All he has to do is make contact and the ball is going to go out.”
During the 2016 season, Carter had four multiple-homer games, including May 3 at Miller Park against the Angels.
That night, he hit two balls that traveled a combined 870 feet off starter Nick Tropeano in a game the Angels lost 5-4.
“It was like that all year long,” Maldonado recalled. “But it was more fun to watch his BP than the actual game.”
Other than those two swings, Carter went hitless in 10 at-bats during that series, a fitting snapshot of a player who, in parts of eight seasons, has 158 home runs but only a .217 average.
Last February, the New York Yankees signed Carter in a situation similar to the one he faces today.
Because of injuries, he was forced to play more than anticipated and struggled to the point where then-Yankees manager Joe Girardi described continuing to start Carter as “it’s what we have.”
In July, Carter was released with eight home runs and a .201 average in 62 games.
He said he believes he could return to producing like he did in his one season with the Brewers if “given enough at-bats.” The problem is the Angels might not have those at-bats to give.
“He’s a guy who, if he makes contact with the ball, who knows where it’s going?” said Angels pitcher Matt Shoemaker, who played with Carter during a two-week All-Star tour in Japan in 2014. “It could even be terrible contact. With guys like him, the ball just goes.”
With guys like “Sleepy,” the key is an awakened bat.
Kinsler glad to be on same side as Trout
Mike Trout leads the Angels by pretty much every measure. So why wouldn’t he also lead them as an example of how to play this game in a time-honored manner?
“He’s just a ballplayer,” said second baseman Ian Kinsler, who was traded to the Angels in December. “Obviously, he’s extremely talented. You respect guys on the other side who approach the game that way.”
Entering his 13th season, Kinsler has a reputation of performing with a gritty, dirty-uniform style not unlike Trout’s. He even routinely wears his socks old-school high.
Having spent the past four seasons with Detroit, Kinsler saw enough of Trout to appreciate his new teammate before arriving for the start of camp.
“You can tell that he plays with emotion, that he’s excited to play every day,” Kinsler said. “He tries not to show people up. He runs with his head down. He runs hard, takes the extra base. He does it all the right way.”
Pitchers not fond of new fence height
This week brought the news that the home-run boundary in right field at Angel Stadium will be lowered by 10 feet, a decision roundly supported by the hitters.
The pitchers? Well, not so much.
“I can sit and talk about how negatively we view it all day long,” Shoemaker said. “But let’s be real. Anything they do for the pitchers, the hitters hate it. Anything they do for the hitters, the pitchers hate it. It’s always going to be that way.”
Among the 30 big league venues, Angel Stadium ranked 18th as a homer-friendly park in 2017.
The sport itself is coming off a historic season with an all-time mark of 6,105 homers hit.
“Major League Baseball broke the home run record by far last year,” Shoemaker said, smiling. “Now they want more.”
More time off
With spring training games starting earlier this year, manager Mike Scioscia said he does not anticipate most of the team’s regulars playing until next week. The Angels’ first game is Friday.
The Angels traded for another extra outfielder Wednesday, acquiring Jab-ari Blash from the Yankees for a player to be named or cash. To make room on the 40-man roster, the team transferred pitcher Alex Meyer to the 60-day disabled list. A native of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Blash, 28, has appeared in 99 big league games — all with San Diego in 2016-17 — batting .200 with a .659 OPS. ... With spring training games starting earlier this year, manager Mike Scioscia said he does not anticipate most of the team’s regulars playing until next week. The Angels’ first game is Friday.
Go beyond the scoreboard
Get the latest on L.A.'s teams in the daily Sports Report newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.