Mike Carp Will Likely Begin 2010 Back In Triple-A

SEATTLE — By all rights, the news that the Mariners had traded for first baseman Casey Kotchman should send a strong message to first baseman Mike Carp that he can plan on starting the 2010 season at Triple-A Tacoma.

Carp, 22, appeared in 21 games last year with the Mariners during a two-week callup in June and from Sept. 1 on, hitting .315/.415/.463 over 54 at-bats. With more experienced players like Kotchman and Ryan Garko coming in, Carp will likely be headed back to Tacoma for more seasoning.

As the 2009 season wound down, however, Carp was taken aside by general manager Jack Zduriencik who wanted to get a simple message across. No matter what happened during the winter, if Carp applied himself he would have a chance to break with the big league team in 2010.

Carp, originally a ninth-round draft pick in 2004 out of a California high school, hit .271/.372/.446 with 15 home runs at Tacoma. He was acquired from the Mets as part of a three-team trade at the 2008 winter meetings.

"He's a player who has an opportunity,'' Zduriencik said. "At the end of the season we had a nice private talk where I challenged him to do what it takes to be ready for the spring. We think Mike is going to be a very fine hitter, and will hit for power, but there are things he has to work on.''

Specifically, the Mariners want to make sure that his defense measures up. With the big club being built on pitching and defense in general, Carp's best chance to emerge in 2010 is to show he's not just a hitter.

"He should come into camp looking to take a back seat to no one,'' Zduriencik said. "No one has been guaranteed a job. What we want is a complete player. If he improves, he'll be able to write his own ticket, and I told him that.'' Will Carp measure up to the challenge?

"We'll find out in spring training,'' Zduriencik said.


• First baseman/outfielder Brad Nelson, who got 28 at-bats spread over the last two seasons with the Brewers, signed a minor league contract with Seattle with an invitation to the big league camp for spring training.

• The Mariners signed Kevin Quintanilla, a 17-year-old righthander from El Salvador.