Nothing Seems To Faze Athletics' Chris Carter





OAKLAND—Part of the plan for first baseman Chris Carter is to turn up the heat, to see how the top prospect responds to the pressure of Triple-A.

"When you get to the status he's gotten to, there's a certain amount of pressure to that," farm director Keith Lieppman said. "It's been interesting watching how he handles the accolades. He shows things don't bother him.

"He has put himself into a situation where so much of the focus is on him, and he does not let that affect him."

The organization's player of the year for two years running, Carter had fostered feelings of hopefulness and expectation in the Athletics' front office.

But first, the 23-year-old must pass a trial by fire at Sacramento. "He will certainly be the focus of pitching coaches—he will get their attention on how to pitch him," Lieppman said. "He will be getting attention from the press. That will help make him . . . better and get (him) ready for the big leagues."

Carter crushed 39 home runs in 2008, but he adjusted his game to become a more complete hitter last season with Double-A Midland, where he hit .337 with 24 homers.

"I worked on seeing the ball, taking balls where they're pitched," he said. "I worked on keeping the front side closed, not flying open."

He ventured to Mexico for winter ball, but the stay was shortened by a bout of appendicitis. He returned to Oakland for surgery only to learn it was just a case of the flu.

Now Carter plans to keep the same hitting approach at Sacramento. "He's had solid at-bats and been consistent," Lieppman said. "He stays within himself and swings at strikes."

In the past, the A's tinkered with moving Carter to the outfield, but the focus at spring training was entirely at first base. "I worked on picking balls out of the dirt and staying low," the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Carter said.

A's ACORNS

• By mid-April, the A's still had 27 players on injury rehab at their Phoenix spring training facility. Righthander Andrew Carignan was closest to returning from an elbow clean-up surgery. The series of injuries left the organization undermanned at the lowest minor league levels.

• Righthander James Simmons, a first-round pick in 2007, continued to rehab from biceps tendinitis. He remained at home and had not yet reported to the team as of late April.