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Prospect Q&A: Carpenter's trade-off
New member of Red Sox reflects on big Cubs deal for Epstein
03/19/2012 10:00 AM ET
Chris Carpenter went 3-4 with a 5.91 ERA in 32 Minor League games in 2011.
Chris Carpenter went 3-4 with a 5.91 ERA in 32 Minor League games in 2011. (Patrick Semansky/AP)
As Chris Carpenter himself said upon learning he was being shipped to Boston in exchange for former Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein last month, his name will go down in history.

But what of the future?


Epstein, the Cubs' new president of baseball operations, announced Feb. 21 he had traded his Minor League system's formerly fifth-ranked prospect, according to MiLB.com, to his former employer. Last Thursday, Chicago sent Minor League pitcher Aaron Kurcz to fulfill its end of the two-way, player-to-be-named-later swap.)

Now Boston's No. 8 prospect, Carpenter, 26, is competing for one of seven slots in the Sox's bullpen. Coming off his first full season as a relief pitcher -- he compiled a 2.79 ERA in his first 10 big league appearances -- Carpenter checked in with MiLB.com from Florida to discuss the past and the future.

MiLB.com: Did you ever think you'd be the guy to go?

Carpenter: I knew it was a possibility. Whether I thought I was the front person at the time didn't really matter, but everybody knew that somebody had to go and it was possible for pretty much anyone to go. We all were waiting for news, and it turned out to be me.

MiLB.com: Sort of like playing "Duck, Duck, Goose" among the Minor Leaguers?

Carpenter: It wasn't something we talked about a lot. It had drawn on for like four months, so you could drive yourself crazy if you thought about it for four straight months.

MiLB.com: How did you first learn you were Boston-bound?

Carpenter: We had already started Spring Training in Chicago. It was [executive vice president/GM] Jed [Hoyer], [manager] Dale [Sveum] and [pitching coach Chris] Bosio [who] took me into the coaches' office. [They] talked me through things to expect, because they'd been traded before, gave me some words of wisdom. I mean, they were all really nice about the whole thing and wished me nothing but the best.

MiLB.com: Initial reaction to the news?

Carpenter: I was startled. I didn't know what to think. I talked to everybody, and I knew it would be a positive thing. Everybody who had been in this organization told me what a great organization it was and what I could expect. I got here, and it's been nothing but good things.

MiLB.com: Are you pumped about playing for Sox skipper Bobby Valentine?

Carpenter: Getting to know him for less than a month now, he's a really positive guy, a really personable guy. [He] tells you what's on his mind. We think he's really straightforward. That's what you want in a manager -- to tell you the things you need to work on and always have your back.

MiLB.com: What differences, if any, have you noticed between the Sox and Cubs organizations?

Carpenter: I don't notice too many differences. Two awesome franchises to play for. Growing up [in Bryan, Ohio] being a Cubs fan -- I had a lot of friends that were Red Sox fans too -- it was cool to play with the two teams I followed growing up. I couldn't ask for anything better.

MiLB.com: Who were your favorite ballplayers?

Carpenter: My buddies and I liked watching Nomar Garciaparra. When I was a lot younger, my favorite player was Ryne Sandberg.

MiLB.com: So before your trade, were you pulling for Sandberg to skipper the Cubs?

Carpenter: I didn't even follow the managerial hunt for Chicago too close. I was fortunate enough to play for "Ryno" for a couple years [at Double-A Tennessee in 2009 and Triple-A Iowa in 2010] in the Minor League system. He's a great guy, and I'm sure he'll be managing in the Majors someday. In the short time I got to know Dale, Dale was a great guy too. I think he'll do some good things with them.

MiLB.com: We imagine your last great memory as a Cub was making your big league debut last June. Favorite moment?

Carpenter: Before I threw that first pitch, going out there on the mound. Everybody told me to soak it in, and whether you take a little bit longer out there or not, you only get one first time out on the mound. So I did my 360 around the mound, looked around and took it all in and then got back to business. It was just that split-second when I was out there and I realized, "I finally made it to where I've been trying to get to my whole life." It was a pretty surreal feeling.

MiLB.com: Sounds like you were more calm that nervous.

Carpenter: I felt pretty calm. There were a lot of nerves in the bullpen. But once I got on the field, instinct took over, doing something I've done my whole life.

MiLB.com: After transitioning from the role of starter to reliever in Chicago's farm system, how do you see yourself going forward in Boston?

Carpenter: I feel like I can be of help as a late-inning power-armed guy. I have always considered myself as a guy who goes right at hitters and tries to get ahead with the fastball. Pretty much anything they need me to do to help the team, I'm down for. The Cubs thought I could help the team better as a reliever, and I took on that role. Whatever the Red Sox want me to do, I'd be more than happy to do it.

MiLB.com: What do you need to improve upon to stick in "The Show?"

Carpenter: I think I just need to be progressing. Every day, I'm learning. Every time I go out there, I'm always learning. I get more experience and more comfortable.

MiLB.com: Working on anything this spring?

Carpenter: I'm pretty much going about my business. Like every year, I came into Spring Training wanting to pound the zone, to show I can throw strikes with all my pitches. Commanding my fastball is something I have been working on, and hopefully it keeps improving.

MiLB.com: What was your mind-set heading into camp: Competing for a big league bullpen job?

Carpenter: As a competitor, in my mind, I feel like I can compete for that spot. Whether I make the team or don't make the team, I will go out and do my job every day. Whether it be in Pawtucket or in Boston, it's not going to change my attitude, work habit and approach to the game.

MiLB.com: Best moment as a member of the Red Sox so far?

Carpenter: I haven't really had too many of those moments yet, but I'm sure they'll come during the season as I get more comfortable with my teammates. I can't say enough about how nice everyone has been -- from the front office to the training staff down to the players, just accepting the situation and accepting me in as one of the guys like I have been here for a long time.

Andrew Pentis is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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