FORT MYERS, Fla. — Mike Carp was the opening day left fielder for the Seattle Mariners last season, taking his position at the Tokyo Dome before a crowd of 44,227 on March 28.
He injured his right shoulder diving for a ball hit by Kurt Suzuki in the fourth inning, trying to make a play for Felix Hernandez. Carp stayed in the game, the adrenalin keeping him going.
"I'm not coming out of the game. It's the first day of the season," Carp said Friday morning after arriving at Red Sox camp. "I had waited my whole life to make an opening day roster."
Carp went on the disabled list the next day and didn't play again until May 1. The injury hadn't healed properly and Carp returned to the DL on June 11 and didn't return until July 24.
"It took some time. It was a pretty significant injury. Towards the end of the season, that second stint on the DL really helped," Carp said. "We did the whole rehab process over. It's been pretty normal ever since. ... Just had to wait for it for heal. It was just banged-up more than anything."
No surgery was required and Carp said he's fully healthy. But Seattle obtained Mike Morse and Raul Ibanez and Carp was squeezed out. The Mariners designated him for assignment on Feb. 12 and on Wednesday he was traded to the Red Sox.
"I had a lot of expectations coming into last year. [Had a] big 2011, finally getting an opportunity to play," Carp said. "It's just one of those tough-luck plays. I think it made me mentally tough. Definitely kept me hungry for this year."
Carp joins the Sox seeking a spot on the bench as a backup first baseman and left fielder. Because he's on the 40-man roster and out of options, that might give him an advantage. But Carp first has to prove he's a better option than Lyle Overbay, Daniel Nava and Mark Hamilton.
"It's anybody's game. You have to perform. If you don't perform, you don't make the team," he said.
Carp sees the Red Sox as a good fit.
"It's pretty crazy. You think about the tradition and everything that goes on. It's one of baseball's premier teams. Just excited to be a part of it and look forward to the opportunity I get here," he said. "I'm excited to be healthy. I'll go out and perform as best I can and we'll see what happens at the end of the spring.
Carp is 4 for 14 at Fenway Park with two home runs. That's much too small of a sample size to be indicative of anything. But the Red Sox believe the lefthanded hitter has the kind of approach that could fit the park. It has to be better for him than cavernous Safeco Field was.
"Definitely excited about left field. I use the whole field. If I can use that Monster to my advantage, get a couple of doubles," Carp said.
The Mariners moved the fences in this season.
"Tough luck on my part," Carp said. "But the AL East has a bunch of short porches."