Mike Carp did what was needed to get call from Mariners
Tacoma Rainiers slugger Mike Carp, who saw a 22-game hitting end, was called up to the Mariners.
Seattle Times staff columnist
Everything he needed to do, Mike Carp did.
He went to Tacoma and hit for power, hit for average. He switched positions, from first base to left field. He showed he was ready for his return to the big leagues.
And early in Tuesday night's game in Tucson, Carp was pulled from the Rainiers' lineup and told he was heading back to the bigs. Back where he belongs.
Over the past month, Carp has been the best hitter in Triple A. He was batting .348, with 19 home runs, half as many as the entire Mariners roster. He had driven in 58 runs, 24 more than Seattle's leader Justin Smoak.
Mike Carp is on fire, in a way no Mariner has been in several seasons. He had six home runs in his past eight games. He rode a 22-game hitting streak into Tuesday's game, but was pulled after his first at-bat.
I don't think he'll mourn the death of that streak.
The Mariners have done the right thing. They have rewarded Carp for doing everything asked of him.
They sent him back to Tacoma last season and ordered him to find more bomb in his bat. He went down without complaining and jacked 29 homers and drove in 76 runs in 110 games for the Rainiers.
Carp, who hit .315 in 21 games for the Mariners in 2009, is an example of a guy who is getting it. He's a player who understands that the big leagues aren't a birthright. For eight seasons, at stops from Hagerstown, Md. to Binghamton, N.Y., he patiently has done what he's been told.
For the past two years, he's ridden the I-5 shuttle, from Tacoma to Seattle, to Tacoma, back to Seattle, then back to Tacoma again. He's listened. He's worked. And he has grown his game.
He doesn't turn 25 until the end of this month and he can be a part of the optimism that suddenly is engulfing this city over this team, an optimism that transcends 2011.
I heard all of the arguments about keeping Carp in Tacoma. He was a duplication of already-arrived talents. He was a left-handed hitting, natural first baseman, a position the Mariners' believe switch-hitting Smoak will own for most of this decade.
Recently he was moved to left fielder where another left-handed power hitter, Carlos Peguero, is getting first crack with the M's.
But a team with an American League-worst .229 batting average, has to find room for players with pop. A team that struggles to score runs needs to find a place in the order for a guy who can produce.
Immediately Carp should be the Mariners' designated hitter, replacing Jack Cust, who has two home runs in 173 at bats. The M's keep waiting for Cust to awaken the echoes of 2008, when he hit 33 home runs for Oakland. But that's not going to happen.
Cust was the 2011 finger in a leaky dike. Carp is a real part of the future. He can play first when Smoak needs a rest. And early indications are that he can play some left field.
This season, the Mariners should be in the business of rewarding the players who work the hardest, do what they're told and produce in the minor leagues.
Carp is Exhibit A.
Of course there are no guarantees. Tacoma numbers don't automatically transfer to the bigs. But I think Carp is ready.
It's obvious Smoak needs protection in the order. He's been struggling in the three hole. Carp, as a designated hitter, behind Smoak in the order, might be that protection.
Let's face it, watching the kids — seeing Peguero hit two home runs in one game and Greg Halman get six hits in his first seven at bats, watching Michael Pineda's early mound artistry and seeing the potential in Smoak's swing has made this first half of the season surprisingly entertaining.
Watching these kids is better than a dozen Bobblehead Nights.
So keep the kids coming. They are breathing life into a major-league season that started like a carbon copy of the calamity of 2010.
And now, prepare yourselves for the arrival of Rainiers infielder Dustin Ackley, the second overall pick in the 2009 draft. You say there's no room in the infield for Ackley. Sorry, but third baseman Chone Figgins is mired at .185.
Ackley came into Tuesday night's game, hitting above .300. So believe me, the infield can be reorganized to find room for Ackley.
The inexorable march of the Mariners' farmhands has begun. Keep the kids coming.
Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About Steve Kelley
Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation.
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