Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

What's a guy with a major-league cannon doing with the Goldeyes?

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If it were just about his fastball -- which has hit triple digits on the radar gun -- then Nick Carr would still be somewhere in the New York Mets' chain frustrating enemy batters.

If it were just about the cutthroat mentality he brings to the mound with a game hanging in the balance, then Nick Carr's spring numbers -- seven scoreless innings with 10 Ks and just two walks in the Mets' triple-A camp -- would almost certainly have him still working somewhere in organized ball.

But on a warm and blustery afternoon in downtown Winnipeg, a man voted the Mets' 14th-best prospect by Baseball America as recently as 2007 is sitting in the dugout at Shaw Park and staring out at the diamond that is now his baseball address.

So the first question that jumps out is this: Why are you here with the Goldeyes, Nick Carr?

"(The Mets) just basically told me there was no room for me in the organization anymore," said the 25-year-old Idahoan. "It was frustrating because there's a lot of guys ahead of you at different levels and you know they're not better than you.

"You just have to do what you can do and hope that it's good enough, because in the end it's a game about politics and numbers and money and all of those things."

But it seems the scouting report on Carr would likely highlight more than just his major league right arm. He's outspoken and not afraid to question authority in a business where prospects are often expected to simply do what they're told.

"I've never been the kind of guy who doesn't say what's on my mind, especially if I'm backed into a corner or feel pressured," Carr admitted. "I don't like to feel like I have to walk on eggshells."

All of this undoubtedly makes Carr one of the more intriguing names with the Goldeyes and in the entire American Association this season.

He'll be counted on as the Fish closer now that Jamie Vermilyea, last year's ace out of the bullpen, has retired to manage Maui in the North American League. But there will also be more than a few eyes on manager Rick Forney and pitching coach Bill Pulsipher as to how they handle the young man.

And maybe this is why the relationship might work: Forney, like Carr, isn't one to "dance on eggshells."

"I think getting released has forced him to grow up a little bit," said Forney. "And not getting another job from another affiliated team... sometimes things like that can travel with you. Nobody wants to deal with baggage.

"So far he's been good. Everybody's enjoyed being around him. He's a bulldog, man. He's real competitive. He's a pistol. The bigger thing when you're dealing with young guys like this is if you're honest with them and let them know what your expectations are, there's no guessing game between the two of you. He understands what I expect and what our needs are as a team. But at the same time I expect him to be a pro. I expect him to come in and do his work, be on time and be a teammate just like everybody else.

"He's not going to get any special exemptions around here," added Forney. "There's no prospects here."

But there's also this: If Forney's new closer is saving games regularly and his heater is hitting the mid-90s, then it won't be a matter of if the Goldeyes' manager gets a call about Carr, but when.

And the first question they ask won't be about his stuff, either.

"(Teams) have enough scouting reports on him. They've been following this guy for years so they know more about what's going to come out of his hand than I do because they've seen it so many times," said Forney. "But I'm pretty sure one of the first questions will be about his makeup and his demeanour. I don't see it being a problem. We're going to do everything we can to help him grow up a little bit. Hopefully we're a good fit for one another."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 11, 2012 C1

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