FORT MYERS, Fla. -- All winter long, baseball players look forward to the first day of Spring Training. In other words, there are few things more demoralizing than getting designated for assignment just before the start of camp -- which was Mike Carp's plight a couple of weeks back.
But all was well in Carp's world on Friday morning. This was his first day of camp, and with a new team no less.
"I'm definitely excited," said Carp. "To put on a Red Sox uniform is going to mean a lot."
Carp reported to the Red Sox two days after being traded from the Seattle Mariners. And despite falling out of favor out there, mainly because of roster construction, he has a real opportunity to make his mark for Boston.
The Red Sox need a left-handed hitter who can help supplement right-handed hitter Jonny Gomes in left field while also giving Mike Napoli an occasional break at first base.
Of the players in camp vying for that spot, Carp appears to have the most upside, considering he's young (26) and has a fairly recent history of success (2011).
Lyle Overbay, who has had a solid career, is also in the mix. The two advantages Carp has are that he's more comfortable in the outfield than Overbay and he's on the 40-man roster.
"It's always a competition. Someone is always trying to take your job. You have to stay hungry, stay healthy and keep at it," said Carp.
Carp learned that lesson first-hand through his experience with the Mariners. In 2011, he was called up to the Majors in June and appeared in 79 games, hitting .276 with 12 homers, 46 RBIs and a .791 OPS.
Then came 2012, which he thought would be even better. For the first time, Carp found himself on the Opening Day roster. But on Opening Night in Tokyo against the Athletics, Carp injured his right shoulder trying to make a diving catch. He didn't play again until May. And more importantly, Carp wasn't the same player all season, hitting just .213 with a .654 OPS in 59 games.
"I had a lot of expectations coming into last year after a big 2011, and then finally getting an opportunity to play," said Carp. "It's just one of those tough-luck plays. It's Opening Night. I think it made me mentally tough and definitely kept me hungry for this year. I'm excited to be healthy for the full season."
Friday was a day for Carp to ease his way into camp and get to know some new faces.
"He took BP, went through the team fundamental [drill]," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He was cleared through his physical and got out on the field. We'll get him into a sim game [Saturday], where [Clay] Buchholz and [Franklin] Morales are throwing, just to see some live pitching. I'm not going to say we're going to put him through a crash course, but today is the first day in camp, either here or Seattle. He'll catch up to speed quick."
If Carp can get his opposite-field stroke down, he is the type of player who can thrive at Fenway Park. In 14 career at-bats in Boston, Carp has a .286 average and two homers.
"Yeah, I'm definitely excited about left field," Carp said. "I use the whole field. If I can use that Monster to my advantage, get a couple of doubles, it makes for a lot better dynamic than Safeco, where balls get run down."
Of course, it was just Carp's luck that the fences got moved in at Safeco this season and he won't be able to take advantage of it.
"Tough luck on my part, but in the AL East, they've got a lot of short porches," Carp said.
Before he takes aim at those, Carp will simply savor being back to work, officially taking the sting out of what happened a couple of weeks ago.