FORT MYERS, Fla. — Via Twitter (see above), Mike Carp seems excited about joining the Red Sox.
General manager Ben Cherington said Carp is part of a competition for a spot and doesn't necessarily have an edge. Roster management will factor in, but the Sox want the best fit.
"Obviously some guys have different levels of control, on and off the [40-man] roster. But it's a competition and we'll see what happens," he said. "It would be nice to have a combination of a fourth outfielder and a first baseman. We want to make sure we're covered defensively."
Said manager John Farrell: "We’ve been able to add a talented player to camp here, someone that we’ve had conversations about during the course of the offseason and finally he became available."
Carp has hit lefthanders better than righthanders during his career, which doesn't fit the profile for what the Red Sox are looking for in a bench player. But Carp did hit righthanders better in Triple A for two years.
"Personally we’ve seen a very good approach at the plate, a guy that doesn’t seem to be overexposed with one certain type of pitch thrown against him. That’s a first-hand view of him," Farrell said.
"The biggest thing is that when we looked at players to fit this role, it wasn’t a matter of one strength that stood out. The defensive versatility was equally important to the offensive production. Yes, he had has some good success against lefthanded pitching. We’ll get a better read on why that’s been once he reports and we get to know him more as a person and a player.”
Said Cherington: "We'll see. But I wouldn't bank on him being a reverse split guy."
Veteran first baseman Lyle Overbay, who is in camp on a minor league contract, expected some additional competition.
"It’s not that big of a surprise. I just do what I can and see if I fit. That’s all I can do ... I knew coming in that they might make a trade,” he said.
Farrell spoke to Overbay and the other players involved. Overbay is confident he'll get a fair shot.
“I know John has to feel comfortable with four outfielders if he goes with me, that kind of thing. Those are little things when it comes down to it. I have to show I can perform," he said.
Ideally, one player will be able to back up both positions. But the Sox are open to the idea of having a player for each spot.
The candidates break down like this:
First basemen/outfielders: Mike Carp, Mark Hamilton.
Outfielders: Mitch Maier, Ryan Sweeney.
Outfielders learning to play first base: Daniel Nava.
First basemen learning to play outfield: Lyle Overbay.
Nava and Carp are on the 40-man roster. Nava has options, so he could be stashed in Pawtucket as insurance. Sweeney and Overbay have opt-outs on their minor league contracts. Overbay can declare free agency on March 26 if he is not on the 40-man roster, Sweeney on March 28.