Carpenter excited to don pinstripes
Reliever feels Yankees have one of game's best bullpens
NEW YORK -- The biggest step forward of David Carpenter's career came with Brian McCann putting down the fingers behind home plate, and the right-hander can't wait to have that battery recharged in Yankees pinstripes this season.
McCann was an enthusiastic supporter of the New Year's Day deal that brought Carpenter to the Bronx, packaged with left-hander Chasen Shreve for pitching prospect Manny Banuelos. The 29-year-old Carpenter hopes to make both his buddy and the Yanks' front office look good with some immediate dividends.
"B-Mac is the kind of guy that you love going to battle with," Carpenter said on Tuesday. "He's a team guy, he busts his butt out there, he's everything you could ask for in a leader, especially a catcher. To be reunited with him, it's going to be really, really special. The kind of words he shared with the front office, wanting to pull the trigger on trying to get me, it really boosts your confidence, that's for sure."
Carpenter will try continue the positive strides he made over the past two seasons with the Braves, after he logged a combined 2.63 ERA and 10 strikeouts per nine innings over 121 appearances. He was especially sharp in 2013, compiling a 1.78 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP in 56 outings, and Carpenter credits McCann with having made a significant impact.
"He told me, 'When you come in and blow through the order and just attack people, your stuff is good enough that you can get these people out,'" Carpenter recalled. "'As soon as you truly believe that, you're going to go on and do some big things.'
"So then there was one game, and I think I struck out three guys in a row and we're going off the field. He kind of got excited and goes, 'That's what I'm talking about right there! That's what I need!'"
The trade came as a surprise to Carpenter, who had attended the wedding of Braves teammate Chris Johnson the night before in Atlanta, but he is no stranger to baseball's transient nature. The Yankees are Carpenter's sixth organization; drafted by the Cardinals, Carpenter saw big league time with the Astros and Blue Jays before being packaged as part of the unique October 2012 trade that installed John Farrell as Boston's manager.
Carpenter never pitched for the Red Sox, as he was claimed by the Braves a month later, and he explained his success in Atlanta as a result of finally getting a chance to settle down.
"Honestly, it was just the opportunity to be able to go out there and throw in familiar innings," Carpenter said. "You're throwing in the back end of the game, seventh, eighth, ninth inning. You start getting more comfortable with that. When I was coming up through the Cardinals' organization, that's what I had done; I closed and had been a setup man.
"Getting back to a comfortable part of the game was really, really key for that. Being given that opportunity, setting up for Craig [Kimbrel], and it was just a matter of somebody giving me a chance."
Carpenter will have that in New York. With Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller expected to battle for the closer's role, the Yankees could have Carpenter slot into the sixth or seventh innings, depending on how they choose to use Adam Warren. In theory, Carpenter could replace Shawn Kelley, who was dealt to the Padres in December.
Carpenter said that he has spoken to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, manager Joe Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild about what to expect, and he's eager to see what his assignment will be. Looking over the roster, Carpenter believes that the bullpen will be a difference-maker.
"I think it can be really, really strong," Carpenter said. "There have been multiple people talking about it throughout baseball, the potential that our bullpen has. It can be one of the best in the Major Leagues. I'm really excited to get down there to Tampa, just get started and see where we end up."