BRADENTON, Fla. -- The last thing Mike Carp wants to do is analyze his Spring Training statistics. Carp, who thrived in a part-time role with the Red Sox last season, came into Sunday's game batting just .133 for the Grapefruit League season and dismissed any talk about a slow spring start.
"When the switch flips, the season starts," said Carp, who homered in Boston's 4-1 win over the Pirates. "Obviously, it's just about preparation, right now. It's about getting your eyes working, getting your body working and trying to figure out any keys that you need to get going for the season."
Carp has experience in this department. The former ninth-round Draft pick batted just .178 during Spring Training last year, and then he put together the best season of his brief career. Carp batted .296 with nine home runs in 86 games last year, establishing himself as a key bench cog for Boston.
Usually, when a young player has a big year, he can expect an expanded role. But not when he is a member of the World Series champions. Carp, who plays first base and both corner-outfield slots, is blocked from gaining a greater share of at-bats by star-caliber players like David Ortiz and Mike Napoli.
Carp, to his credit, is more concerned about winning again than he is in starting elsewhere.
"They found plenty of at-bats for me last year -- and it worked," Carp said. "Hopefully, they can find a little more this year, but we're trying to win. The whole goal is to go out and win a world championship -- and we did that last year. The formula for success is there. We'll try to keep on a winning track, and when I get the opportunity to be in a game, I'm going to do everything I can to help the team win that day."
"He did a great job -- not only accepting the role, but staying ready and performing as good as we could've hoped," added manager John Farrell about Carp's results in '13. "He came up with a number of big hits. We've grown accustomed to his and other players' versatility. He and [Daniel] Nava [are] a couple guys who can go to different positions. We see him in the same role [this year]."
Carp, who was purchased from the Seattle Mariners last February, has never had 300 at-bats in a season. He set a career best with 290 at-bats in 2011, and last year was the only other season in which he's had more than 200 at-bats in the big leagues. Carp spent the entire 2013 campaign with the Red Sox, and he said on Sunday that he doesn't spend time thinking about starting somewhere else.
"It's an unrealistic thing to think about. The whole goal is to play every day -- whether it comes this year or next year," Carp said. "I'd be waiting with arms wide open for 500 at-bats. But if my role doesn't permit that this year, that's what it is. I can only control what I can control and do the best I can."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less