Relaxation Is Key For Nationals' Carr

WASHINGTON — After pitching to ERAs of 6.15 and 6.95 in 2008 and 8.71 and 5.82 in 2009, Adam Carr had no illusions entering this past season. He had been unprotected for the Rule 5 draft last winter, and making the 40-man roster seemed an unrealistic thought to even have.

"Coming into the year, (being included on the roster) was the last thing I was thinking about or expecting," Carr said.

Nevertheless, Carr turned his career around at age 26 and was added to the 40-man along with fellow righthanded reliever Cole Kimball and first baseman Chris Marrero.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Carr went 6-1, 3.04 with 50 strikeouts in 48 innings for  Double-A Harrisburg. He had five saves for the Senators before saving nine more for Triple-A Syracuse as he went 0-1, 2.08 with 22 strikeouts in 19 innings. Then with the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League, he held hitters to a .130 batting average while going 1-0, 2.08 with eight strikeouts and three walks in 13 innings.

Relaxation was the key for the resurgence, Carr said. An 18th-round pick who pitched, played first base and starred as a hitter at Oklahoma State, Carr enjoyed immediate success in pro ball. Two solid seasons and a rise to Double-A, though, were followed by the two nightmarish years.

"When you're trying to do everything you can to fix something, sometimes the thing to do is just try to forget about it," Carr said. "I had played winter ball in '06, '07 and '08. Last year I just simplified everything. All I wanted to do was make a team and slow the rest down."

Carr regained confidence in his repertoire, which includes a fastball, two-seamer, slider and a changeup that he feels is his most improved pitch.

"I like the fact he has the ability to throw the ball down in the zone," said Randy Knorr, his manager in Double-A and in the AFL. "He throws a firm slider that he has commanded better, and he has developed his changeup."


• Lefthander Sammy Solis earned the win and Kimball the save for Scottsdale in the AFL championship game. Second baseman Steve Lombardozzi won the league's Dernell Stenson sportsmanship award.

• Middle infielder Danny Espinosa had to have surgery to remove the hook of the hamate bone from his right hand. The recovery time was expected to be about six weeks. Espinosa, 23, was hitting .281/.343/.483 in 89 at-bats for Ponce in the Puerto Rican League, and he hit for the cycle in a 10-2 win over Carolina.