Carter showing signs with big night in Atlanta

Rangers rookie slugs third HR of season, shows off slick defense in LF

April 22nd, 2024

ATLANTA -- The first month of the season has been more than a bit of a grind for both the Rangers and rookie sensation .

Texas completed a 10-game road trip on Sunday night with a 6-4 win over the Braves at Truist Park to cap a stretch of 17 games in 17 days. The club will return to Arlington just over .500 at 12-11 -- not bad, but not exactly how the defending World Series champs wanted to begin 2024.

Meanwhile, Carter has been scrapping and grinding all the same.

Carter was admittedly going to struggle with clearing the high bar he set for himself.

At 21 years old, he burst on to the scene last September to fill in for an injured and hit .306 with a 1.058 OPS in 23 regular-season games. He became a star amongst a team full of All-Stars during the Rangers’ World Series run, slashing .300/.417/.500 while playing all 17 postseason games.

But while the bar was high, a .194 average entering Sunday’s series finale against the Braves was unexpected to say the least.

“I don't think he's hit his stride,” manager Bruce Bochy said pregame. “We saw how good he is but he’s not quite not quite there yet with his swing. Still, you look at getting on base doing things. He just needs to keep doing his thing and find that consistent swing that works for him.”

It’s just one game, but Carter appears to be finding something. Sunday night, the outfielder went 2-for-4 with a solo home run, his third of the season. He also collected his first MLB regular-season hit against a left-handed pitcher, when he outran an infield single in the eighth inning.

It was his first multi-hit game since April 12 against the Astros.

“That's what the big leagues is all about,” Carter said. “It’s just surviving the season and who can survive the longest. Who can come out in the end?

“I think tonight was a great team win, that’s how I'm going to look at it. My goal is to come out and do whatever I can do that night, big or small, to help the team win. It's a long, long year, I mean, gosh. Every game that you can have that you can put a good one together is definitely a good thing. But it's over with and I gotta do it again, not tomorrow, but the next day.”

In addition to his two-hit night, Carter -- who won a Minor League Gold Glove Award in center field in 2022 -- made two diving catches in left field to rob the Braves of base hits.

“[I’m glad] the defense got to show a little bit today,” Carter said. “I haven't really got to make any abnormal plays this year on defense.

“I feel comfortable in left field. I think that it’s a completely different position [than center], so it did take some getting used to but I feel comfortable over there, for sure.”

That’s the best thing about Carter as a player. He finds ways to contribute when he’s not collecting multiple hits a game, including getting on base and playing defense. That being said, the Rangers are in a much better place offensively when he’s contributing in the middle of the lineup.

Carter opened the season with an 0-for-15 skid over his first five games, and then entered Sunday’s matchup having gone 1-for-his-last-20.

Nobody, least of all Carter himself, or Bochy and the coaching staff is worried about his ability to right the ship consistently. Eight of his 15 hits this season have gone for extra bases, and he’s collected a team-high 10 walks. He’s reached base safely via hit, walk or hit-by-pitch in 16 of 20 games.

All the tools are in place for Carter to succeed. The hits will continue falling eventually.

“I think the numbers show with how he’s done that he’s not where he wants to be,” Bochy said pregame. “But he’s not where he’s gonna be. But there's a lot of hitters that aren't where they're going to be right now. So you're gonna look at them and say they're rookies and [pitchers] have figured them out. But again there's some really good hitters out there that haven't found their game either. I think he’s doing fine. He’ll continue to be back out there.”