Power To Spare

Streaky slugger Chris Carter on the same page with the A's




OAKLAND—Chris Carter inspired a little panic in the Athletics' coaching staff before the 2008 season even started.

"He only had three hits in spring training," hitting coordinator Greg Sparks said. "Not knowing him, (it) set off a panic mode—I did the panicking. He's the one who settled me down."

By the time high Class A Stockton won the California League title, Carter had pounded 44 home runs and compiled 122 RBIs in a Ports uniform, playoffs included. He earned organization player of the year honors.

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Carter exudes power. He is lean and strong, with a lithe athletic body and an easy-going manner.

"He's a very confident hitter," Sparks said. "He just got off to a slow start. Once he got his rhythm, his timing—and once he got used to what we're doing with selectivity, things took off for him."

Carter's feeble spring carried over into the regular season. He hit .111 without a homer in his first 12 games before the explosion began with five homers in a week. He finished the regular season by batting .259/.361/.569—and then slugging five homers in 12 postseason games.

The 22-year-old is headed to Double-A Midland this year to continue to develop both his bat and glove. The A's have sampled Carter at first, third and in left field, and he is placing a high priority on improving his defense.

"Defense is always one of the things at the top of my work list. I'm pretty comfortable playing first and third," Carter said. "Outfield, I've got to work on that because I don't have too much experience. I spend as much time as I can working on defense."

The A's hope he will cut down on the 156 strikeouts he recorded last year. "Sometimes you look at the statistics and see the strikeouts, and he doesn't come across as a selective hitter. But he's got a really good idea of the strike zone. I just think his timing was a little bit off early," Sparks said. "Rarely do you see him swing at balls out of the zone."

Carter's family moved from the San Francisco Bay area to Las Vegas when he was five, and he began playing in the youth leagues four years later. He attended Sierra Vista High and he had planned to attend Arizona before the White Sox pegged him in the 15th round of the 2005 draft.

After the 2007 season, he was dealt to Arizona (for Carlos Quentin), then 11 days later he was sent to the A's as part of the Dan Haren deal.

A's ACORNS

• Second baseman Jemile Weeks, last year's top draft pick, continues to recover from his hip flexor strain and started the season at extended spring training.

• Farm director Keith Lieppman said that Sean Doolittle, an excellent defensive first baseman, had an outstanding spring training and earned a spot on the Triple-A Sacramento roster, where he'll develop his outfield skills.