For the second time in this young year, Marty Maloney of the White Sox PR Department was generous enough to invite a collection of bloggers for a conference call interview with a member of the organization. And for the second time this year, Marty was generous enough to include me.
This month's subject is Anthony Carter, who's a fair step down from Chris Sale (last month's subject) in notoriety, but it's a pretty natural transition when you think about it. Like Sale, Carter is young (24), has a fastball that 'announces his presence with authority' (98 mph), and just got off of an impressive stretch of dominance that has him in a position to contribute to the big league club.
Sure, Sale eviscerated actual major leaguers, and may find himself closing out games in 2011 while Carter is still in a dogfight for a roster spot, but tossing 16 Ks with no walks in 10 IP while in the hitter-friendly Arizona Fall League isn't anything to sneeze at. It admittedly took me some research to discern it, but the Sox were doing more than throwing the nerds a bone by offering up Carter as a subject.
Also on the call were the South Side Sox crew; (Jim, U-God, and Colin), as well as Paul Banks of ChicagoNow and The Sports Bank, Mark Liptack from White Sox Interactive, and Nick from My Sox Are White.
Mark Primiano (U-God) from South Side Sox had already pumped out a transcript by the time I got home, so while it would be pointless to stubbornly type out my recording separately, it's important to note that what follows is the result of his leg work, not mine.
Mark Primiano: What were your initial feelings when the club
came to you and told that they were going to make you into a reliever?
How did they go about doing that?
Anthony Carter: They called me into the office and told me
they were bringing something up. They felt this would probably be the
best chance for me. The feeling was like "Ok, this is something new"
and I adjusted as quickly as possible to get going with it.
Jim Margalus: Your entire minor league career has been on the
starting path. Was that how you always saw yourself and was it kind of a
blow when you were told you'd be relieving? Did you have to regroup
and adjust or were you more energized by something you saw as a way to
get to the majors?
AC: I was more energized. I was more excited for the fact
that instead of every five days getting a chance, it was gonna be more
of every two days or every other being out there and getting to pitch.
JM: What does that do for your pitch selection? How do you narrow it down for a one inning role?
AC: Whatever is working for me that day.
JM: Obviously you throw the mid-90's fastball, do you prefer your changeup or is it a curveball?
AC: It's actually a slider, but I throw the slider a lot more than I did the changeup.
Nick: Can you describe your experiences playing in the Arizona Fall League and how that will help you make the 25-man roster?
AC: It gave me a lot of experience against some of the top
prospects out there. it was a lot of fun, I got to get out there and
show what I was able to do and I was able to handle those high pressure
situations against some of the better players out there.
JM: Was that your first time pitching in Arizona, because we
hear a lot about how the Arizona climate is great for hitters and tough
AC: No, I had five years of spring training here with the White Sox.
MP: You got to spend a lot of time this past season working
with pitching coach J.R. Perdew. What is it that makes him so highly
respected and regarded of a pitching coach from your experiences?
AC: He knows what to say and when to say it. When I first got
moved to the bullpen, I kind of had a rough outing and then I had a
spot start that was a really rough outing against Tennessee and he
called me in and said "You're gonna be in the bullpen. You don't have
to reserve yourself. Let it go." And from here on it shows that you
can improve month to month. And to me, he just says the right things to
help you keep going.
Mark Liptak: Can you tell me mentally what is the difference
between having to start a game and coming out of the bullpen? Mentally,
how do you make the adjustment to that?
AC: Well as a starter you get to take some days off and not
worry about anything. Being in relief, mentally I had to be ready to go
that day. And you have to go into situations knowing that you are
going to get the guy out and you are going to succeed. You can't have
any room for the doubt.
JM: In the jumps that you've made so far from Rookie to A, A to High-A High-A to AA, which would you say was the biggest adjustment?
AC: Well they all had some adjustments, but I guess the roughest was AA. Just having to get there and go out there.
MP: Does the coaching staff place any pitching constraints on
you, say you'll go out for an outing and they'll say "We want you to
throw this many sliders in this outing"?
AC: No, they don't.
Colin (he finally made it to an interview!): Is your slider
becoming more of a swing and miss pitch or is it something you use early
in the zone to locate?
AC: I'm trying to work on it and get more depth to it where it
can be a swing and miss pitch, but it's also something I can use early
in the count to throw for a strike.
C: About how often did you throw your fastball as compared to your slider?
AC: going on last year, probably about 85% I was throwing the fastball.
N: What do you think makes you an asset to the Sox bullpen?
AC: I give it everything I've got.
Paul Banks: Do you have any role models as in are there any pitchers you look up to and model your game on?
AC: Not really that I can think of.
JM: We've heard a lot about Birmingham being a big park and a
tough park for hitters. From a pitcher's perspective, when you're
throwing in Regions Park are there any times where you've heard the ball
come off the bat or seen a pitch that you left hanging and thought
"That's gone" but it ends up being caught well short of the wall?
AC: Not really, because when they hit one and you know it's
going, you know it's going. You know as soon as they swing the bat, and
you know that one is gone. Sitting the game and watching, there's some
times where you see that. You see a guy get into one and it ends up
not even hitting the warning track.
James Fegan: On that note, the new parks that you may play in
this year in Charlotte and U.S. Cellular play pretty small. What type
of adjustments will you have to make in that regard?
AC: I'll have to get a lot more ground balls and use the sinker a lot more than the four-seamer.
N: What are your personal goals for 2011?
AC: Do the best I can. Other than that, have a higher ground ball to fly ball ratio.
ML: You had such great command in the AFL, I think it was 16
strikeouts and no walks in 10 innings of work. What were you doing
different to account for that, because that's impeccable control and if
you keep pitching like that the White Sox are going to find a spot for
AC: I guess I was just going after hitters a lot more in the
fall league. I made them put it in play. If you were gonna make a
play, I was gonna make you leave swinging not watch you walk down to
JM: Along those lines, in spring training Ozzie Guillen likes
to see his young relievers throw strikes. Did you have an outing where
you gave up a homerun and felt it was preferable to walking a guy or
AC: It depends on the situation, but yeah, if there's nobody
on and I'm going after the guy and he hits a homerun that's a little bit
easier to live with than a walk, but neither one of them are things I
really want to let go.
JM: Well certainly, but as far as trying to get your work in and just trying to get all your pitches on track.
AC: Yeah, because then I know I'm throwing strikes, and I'm picking around and I'm going after the hitter
MP: As a relief pitcher, some time in your career you may be
asked upon by your manager to hit an opposing team's batter as
retaliation for something that happened earlier in the game. What are
your feelings on being asked to do something like that?
AC: When that situation comes up, I'll deal with it as it is.
As a precise hard-thrower who varies from the old No. 1 just enough to stay honest, Carter resembles a pretty successful Sox reliever in his make-up. Inexperience, and needing time to developing the sinking two-seamer he alluded to might keep him off the Opening Day roster. But it'll surprise you how far throwing 95+ for strikes can take you. For Carter, it's already taken him from the 26th round of the draft to very, very close to The Show.