PHOENIX—While Chris Carter stands little to no chance of making the Athletics' big league club out of spring training, that doesn't change his way of thinking.
"I'm coming to spring training to make the team," he said with conviction.
Farm director Keith Lieppman admires Carter's spirit, saying, "You can't take the attitude that, 'Well, I'll show them later.' You have to make the major league players know what you can do."
The 24-year-old Carter stands as Oakland's top power prospect and the fount of great optimism. But the A's have earmarked five roster spots for veteran outfielders Coco Crisp, David DeJesus, Josh Willingham, Conor Jackson and Ryan Sweeney.
Of the five, only Sweeney is signed beyond the 2011 season, and all spent significant time on the disabled list last season. But even an injury would not necessarily open a spot for Carter, since the A's would not want to place a top prospect in a bench role.
Carter made his big league debut last August and proceeded to go hitless in his first 19 at-bats before returning to Triple-A Sacramento. Back in Oakland in September, he ran his hitless streak to 33 at-bats before singling off White Sox reliever Scott Linebrink.
Then something curious happened. Carter collected 13 hits in his final 38 at-bats (.342), including three home runs, and he stopped flailing at those nasty sliders.
"It wasn't just sliders, it was every pitch," he said. "Too far in (or) too far away. I just had to learn to swing at the pitch I wanted to swing at."
Carter saw his flaws by watching video and listening to teammates and coaches offer advice. "It was everybody on the team, just telling me what I was doing," he said.
If not for an injured right thumb, Carter, a natural first baseman, would have spent the offseason refining his technique in left field in the Mexican Pacific League. Even with the damaged thumb, Carter launched 31 home runs for Sacramento, while batting .258/.365/.529 in 551 at-bats.
• Four promising young arms arrived at camp on Jan. 20 for treatment and workouts. Righthanders Michael Ynoa and Arnold Leon and lefties Pedro Figueroa and Julio Ramos all were recovering from 2010 arm surgeries.
• Shortstop Dusty Coleman, a 28th-round pick in 2008 who signed for $675,000, lost the entire 2010 season to a wrist injury, but he arrived early in A's camp fully recovered, according to Lieppman.