EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 23, 2013

No Headline Provided

Christopher Smith
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — It didn’t seem like much when the Boston Red Sox acquired Mike Carp from the Seattle Mariners for cash in late February.

But Carp has contributed in a big way.

The first baseman/outfielder entered Friday batting .324 with a .379 on-base percentage, .686 slugging percentage, 8 homers, 25 RBIs, 10 doubles and 2 triples in just 105 at-bats.

His potential was clear in 2011 when he belted 12 homers and knocked in 46 runs in just 290 at-bats for the Mariners. But he struggled last year, dealing with a shoulder sprain.

Carp recently went one-on-one with Eagle-Tribune baseball reporter Christopher “Smitty” Smith.

Smitty: I have heard one of your many tattoos honors your former Mariners teammate and good friend Greg Halman (who was stabbed to death by his brother in the Netherlands in November 2011).

Carp: He actually had this tattoo on him, and I thought it was one of the coolest ones I’d ever seen. It’s a baseball with a globe in it and it says, “My World.”

It has meaning to us, especially him coming from Amsterdam and playing in the States. But I’ve played in the Dominican, Venezuela, played in Hawaii, played in Canada and Japan so it’s kind of a global thing for me, too.

Smitty: How have you gotten the chance to play in so many different countries?

Carp: Just getting opportunities to play — winter ball and last year we (the Mariners) opened up in Japan.

Smitty: What has been the best place you’ve visited while playing?

Carp: I think the Dominican was the most eye-opening. We went basically for a second instructional league (with the Mets) and they put us up with the (Dominican) players. They basically put us into their life.

We stayed at the Academy with the players and all the food was prepared and cooked from that area. And just spent a lot of time getting to know those guys, hanging out and seeing how they’re brought up and how they play the game.

Smitty: What was your favorite food down there?

Carp: Chicken and the rice and beans. It was unbelievable. I kept going back for seconds.

Smitty: Getting back to Halman, you bring his Seattle jersey around with you wherever you play and leave it in your locker?

Carp: That goes everywhere I go. It’s just a way of keeping him in the big leagues. Keeping his dream alive. I thought I was going to play with him for a lot of years in the big leagues.

Smitty: What was your favorite thing about him?

Carp: Overall being able to talk just in general. It didn’t have to be about baseball. He was always there to lift your spirits no matter what the day was and no matter what you did that day.

My favorite memory of being on the field (with him) is actually here. We both got to go to Fenway for the first time, and I remember walking in through left field and we both were in chills. And we both were in the starting lineup that night. I played left. He played center. It was a lot of fun. I hit a home run and he made a couple good plays in center field. It was just a crazy experience.

Smitty: What ballpark do you most enjoy visiting?

Carp: I like going back to Anaheim just because I live 10 minutes away from there. And it’s where I grew up and where the major league dream pretty much started. Just to go there and know that all my friends and family are in the stands, you’ve got to kind of be on edge a little bit. You’ve got to do a little better in those games.

Smitty: So I’m sure you grew up watching Tim Salmon and Garret Anderson then.

Carp: Darin Erstad was my favorite. And I loved watching Salmon and (Troy) Percival and Anderson and all those guys.

Smitty: What is your favorite home-cooked meal?

Carp: My wife makes some mean enchiladas. I definitely get excited when I see her preparing those.

Smitty: If you weren’t a pro baseball player, what do you think you’d be doing?

Carp: I’ve been having a lot of fun being a dad so far. It’s been 10 months and I’m pretty sure I’d be focused more on that if I wasn’t playing baseball.

Smitty: So you’d be a stay-at-home dad?

Carp: Yeah, just hang out. Make momma go to work and start making some money (laughing).

Smitty: What age were you when you hit your first homer over a fence?

Carp: I was 11 and I had a pretty good year. It was during that Mark McGwire/Sammy Sosa run. And I ended up leading the league in home runs that year and setting a record with my Little League for home runs.

Smitty: What was the record?

Carp: I hit 14 in 18 games.

Smitty: Did you do cartwheels around the bases when you hit the first one that season?

Carp: Yeah and then I look up and I think my parents showed up an inning later. They missed the home run. Fortunately, for me, I hit a few more that year. So they were able to see a lot of them.

Smitty: Which hitter on another team would you most like to talk hitting with?

Carp: I don’t know. I’ve got a pretty good one to talk to in David Ortiz.

Smitty: What have you and Ortiz discussed?

Carp: Just talking approach and game plan and trying to execute what we’re trying to do. Not letting the pitcher dictate what happens during my at-bat. And just watching how he (Ortiz) uses his hands and try to apply that to myself.