It’s time for another Chicago White Sox prospect conference call.
This edition features right-handed flame-thrower Anthony Carter. Yes, he has the exact same name as the 1980s Michigan Wolverines and Minnesota Vikings star wide receiver. And like that AC, he’s known for speed; the velocity of his heater measures in the mid ’90s. Marty Maloney in the Sox front office set us up with the minor leaguer who made the 40 man roster this spring, with a chance to win a middle relief job.
Other participants joining me on this call were, Nick from My Sox Are White, James Fegan of Chicago Now‘s White Sox Observer, Mark Liptak from White Sox Interactive, Mark Primiano, Jim Margalus and Colin from South Side Sox
By Paul M. Banks
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.
JM: 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 for pitchers?
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.
ML: 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 : 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.
JF: 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 you?
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 first base.
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 two?
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: something about throwing strikes, very hard to decipher
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.
Thanks to the White Sox and Anthony Carter and all the participating bloggers.
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank
He also does a regular guest spot each week for Cleveland.com and Chicagoland Sports Radio.com