Carpenter Slides Into Major League Role





HOUSTON It took five years, two organizations and one major position change to get David Carpenter to the doorstep of the major leagues.

It took him three pitches to get there.

As Carpenter, a catcher turned relief pitcher, begins his major league career with the Astros, he owes it to three sliders he threw in one of his final minor league starts.

Up until that point, he was a big arm and a whole lot of question marks, a three-year project as a pitcher working on a slider and a curve to give some balance to a fastball that can sit at 94 mph. That's what the Astros had acquired from the Cardinals when they dealt Pedro Feliz last year.

"I like those 0.00 ERA guys a lot," general manager Ed Wade said, referring to Carpenter's 18 scoreless outings for Triple-A Oklahoma City. "Early on, it was a question of whether the slider was going to come quickly enough to warrant an opportunity this early in the season. A couple of our guys saw him in the last couple weeks and thought he was sort of a one-and-three-quarters pitch kind of guy."

But Triple-A pitching coach Burt Hooton gave a glowing report on the slider, and when an opening allowed, Carpenter was off to the big leagues, where he began his career with four more scoreless appearances.

The 25-year-old began his big league career in low-leverage situations, pitching a lot of sixth and seventh innings for Brad Mills. It's a far cry from where he was three years ago as a struggling catcher in the Cardinals system.

Having not pitched since high school, Carpenter was a bit reluctant when the Cardinals suggested he try it, as his path to the majors was progressing slowly.

"They had made the transition with Jason Motte, turning him from a catcher into a pitcher, and they saw some of the same characteristics as far as a strong-armed kid," Carpenter said.

SPACE SHOTS

• The Astros made a pair of waiver claims to fill their 40-man roster and their Oklahoma City club. They acquired speedy outfielder Luis Durango off waivers from the Padres for outfield depth behind the similar Michael Bourn and Jason Bourgeois. They dipped into the White Sox organization to claim righthander Lucas Harrell.

• The Astros promoted Adam Bailey to high Class A Lancaster after his all-star campaign with low Class A Lexington. In doing so, they demoted Jay Austin, their 2008 second-round pick, back to Lexington after the 20-year-old hit .260/.321/.371 in his second year at Lancaster.