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Carpenter looking to build on solid '13

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- David Carpenter was the last member of the Braves to take the mound in 2013. In Game 4 of Atlanta's National League Division Series loss to Los Angeles on Oct. 7, Juan Uribe hit a two-run homer off him to send the Dodgers one step closer to the World Series.

The homer marked an unfortunate end to a stellar season by a pitcher who took advantage of his first regular role in a Major League bullpen.

In 56 appearances, Carpenter compiled career-best marks with a 1.78 ERA, a 0.99 WHIP and four wins. Opposing batters hit just .198 against him.

Not bad for the former catcher, a native of Morgantown, W.Va., who was drafted by the Cardinals out of West Virginia University as a backstop in the 12th round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.

In 2008, after several seasons of struggles at the plate, Carpenter began pitching, and he switched to the mound full-time in 2009. In 306 career appearances in the Minor Leagues, he compiled a 3.06 ERA.

"Everybody kind of forgets I haven't been doing this very long," Carpenter said. "I'm still trying to adapt to it. And it's a learning experience every time out."

Carpenter spent the offseason working to not only repeat his success in 2014 but to get better. He focused on maintaining his fastball command as well as sharpening his slider and working on his splitter.

"I'm just trying to find a way to make things a little bit better," he said.

Carpenter struggled in his first couple of seasons as a pitcher in the Majors, posting a 1-5 record and 5.70 ERA in 67 appearances with the Astros and Blue Jays between 2011 and 2012 before being traded to the Red Sox.

In November 2012, 10 days after Boston designated him for assignment, Atlanta claimed him off waivers. After going back and forth between Triple-A Gwinnett and Atlanta last April, he was recalled for good on April 30.

What followed was a career year. Carpenter credits former Braves starter Tim Hudson and pitching coach Roger McDowell, among others, for helping him reach the heights he attained at the back of the bullpen.

"Last Spring Training I was still trying to find a comfort level with [pitching]," he said. "I found it throughout the season. ... I believe everything's coming along at the right pace now, and I'm excited about it."

Joe Morgan is a contributor to
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