Chris Carter Finally Gets To Make Impression With Mets





NEW YORK—Outfielder Chris Carter, one of the players to be named in the trade that sent Billy Wagner to the Red Sox, should have been in the big leagues with the Mets in September. He had his arrival delayed, however, when the Yankees claimed him on waivers, forcing Boston to pull him back.

Deprived of that opportunity, Carter still managed to make a favorable impression with his new organization. He joined Daniel Murphy and Shawn Bowman as the lone position players at the Mets' voluntary minicamp in late January.

"He's a major league bat," said new Mets third base coach Chip Hale, who managed Carter in 2007 when he was with the Diamondbacks' Triple-A Tucson club. "It's always been our job as instructors to kind of create and get him good enough to play first base—or the outfield. He's just extremely intelligent and driven."

Murphy, who also is a lefty hitter, is projected as the primary first baseman. So the 27-year-old Carter's best chance to make the Opening Day roster appears to be as the fifth outfielder behind Jason Bay, Jeff Francoeur, Angel Pagan and Gary Matthews Jr., while Carlos Beltran mends from knee surgery that should sideline him into May.

Carter, the MVP of Triple-A Pawtucket last season while hitting .294/.358/.465 with 16 homers, has one minor league option remaining.

The Red Sox probably didn't need to trade Carter to the Mets in order to obtain Wagner. After all, New York was eager to part with the remaining $3.2 million owed to Wagner, even if it meant not receiving compensation. But the Red Sox apparently did not want to take any chances.

The deal was a no-brainer for Boston, seeing as they stood to gain two compensation draft picks if Wagner, a Type A free agent, signed with another team. He signed with the Braves, which sent the No. 20 selection to the Red Sox.

METAMORPHOSES

• GM Omar Minaya said that lefty Eric Niesen, a third-rounder from Wake Forest in 2007, will receive an audition this spring to make the club as a second situational reliever behind Pedro Feliciano.

• Manager Jerry Manuel named righthander Fernando Nieve as the early frontrunner for the No. 5 starter's job over 23-year-old lefty Jon Niese. The Mets want to treat Niese cautiously as he recovers from a hamstring tear that required surgery. He threw off a mound for the first time during the minicamp.