Following the career of a major league baseball player sometimes reads like the script from a hit television drama series. The twist and turns emanate from all different angles, where the role which an actor is presently playing can change at any time. The same can be said for baseball players. Players’ roles on a team depend on their level of performance; roles are dependent on the team on which they play.
This seems to define the career of the Bridgeport Bluefish’s right-handed pitcher, David Carpenter.
Carpenter hails from Fairmount, West Virginia. He began playing organized baseball when he was five years old. Carpenter recently recalled, “As early as I can remember or was told by my family , once I started walking, I always had a ball or a bat in my hand.”
That early love for baseball stayed with him as he developed into a player who would dominate many positions.
“Honestly, my first position was third base because I was the only kid who could throw from first to third in the air,” Carpenter reminisced. “As I got older, catching was a real need and I kept bugging my dad that I needed to catch.”
Given his enthusiasm for this position, you’d think catching came naturally for the multi- positions athlete (who has thrown as high as 98 miles per hour on a major league baseball gun). On the contrary, it took practice on and off the field for David to develop the skills needed to cover home plate.
“My dad would chase me around the yard throwing baseballs at me, repeating, ‘Do you really want to catch?,'” Carpenter laughingly stated. “Lo and behold, all the crying and hard work my dad made me go through led me to being a pitcher and a catcher for eight years. ”
Carpenter occupied both the mound and was behind the plate throughout high school and while at West Virginia University. His matured height (6’3″) and weight (250 lbs.) gave him the physical build needed to play both positions. In doing so, David was also mentally preparing himself for the position that he would play in the major leagues, that of pitcher.
“Being able to see things from behind home plate, for example, how a guy sets up in the box and where his hands are, you almost see the situation unfold in front of you,” Carpenter said. “I bring that knowledge out to the mound (when I pitch). I credit my being a catcher as a big part of my career.”
In 2006, Carpenter’s strong arm behind the plate caught the eyes of scouts for the St. Louis Cardinals. That led to David being drafted in the 12th round. Looking back, Carpenter still has fond memories of that special day.
“It was one of the most nerve- racking, greatest days I’ve ever been a part of, ” Carpenter said enthusiastically. “I had talked to twenty-four or so major league teams, and while certain ones had me slotted at this round or another round, it all depended on the general manager.”
“I was lucky enough to have the Cardinals who had been following me since I was a sophomore in high school. There’s one memory I’ll never forget. After I signed with the Cardinals, the scout who signed me was at my house with flowers for my mom. That showed the kind of class that the St. Louis organization has from the top to the bottom.”
As is true with most young professionals, including those new to the major leagues, Carpenter looked to the seasoned players as mentors and examples of how to cope with the mental and physical aspects of baseball on this advanced level. For David, those players included Chris Carpenter, Jason Isringhausen and Josh Kenny.
“I could talk to them about mechanics and such which is all and good, but their knowledge of the mental side of baseball was second to none,” Carpenter remarked. “ Being a catcher for so long, yes, I competed, but the mound is a different animal.”
“They explained to me that as a pitcher, there are certain things you can and cannot control, good and bad. That helped me realize the true picture of what being a pitcher really was.”
Carpenter then recalled a time he was talking to his dad. “I always told my dad I didn’t want to be a major league catcher, I wanted to be a major league ball player.”
With the words of wisdom and guidance from his dad and his mentor players Carpenter, Isringhausen, and Kenny, David was able to fulfill his career dream. He played major league baseball as a pitcher.
However, as many major league baseball players soon discover, life is not always as exhilarating and exciting as the day you report to your first major league field. Players are often on the move, being traded to various teams in the league. Carpenter found himself involved in numerous trades throughout his career, six to be exact.
There is one trade in particular that affected Carpenter’s opinion of himself as a ball player. “The year 2012 was probably the strangest year. I was in Houston and the trade was a ten-player deal, full of minor leaguers and a couple of major leaguers. At the time, I finally established myself with Houston,” Carpenter stated. He continued, “I took it kind of rough at first because I was young, but as I matured, I took it as an opportunity that meant that someone wants you.”
That type of positive thinking not only speaks to Carpenter’s outlook on being a player but the level of maturity he had achieved. Both minor league and younger baseball players in general who find themselves in similar situations could benefit from looking at a challenge from David’s perspective. “The big thing is to see that being in any trade, no matter how minor, is the value that club who is acquiring you sees,” Carpenter said.
“It could really turn your career around. For example, a buddy of mine, Luke Gregerson, was going to be buried in double A with the Cardinals in 2009. He was eventually dealt as the player to be named later in the Khail Greene trade, and he eventually went to the Padres and really established his career.”
Carpenter went on to say, “It’s not so much where you are at the moment, but think of it as you are showcasing yourself for twenty-nine other major league clubs.”
Finding an individual who is so receptive to change and is philosophical about it, especially a baseball player, is rare. Carpenter is not only positive, but wise. Could coaching possibly be in the cards for him?
Commenting on that thought, Carpenter remarked, “I could think of a lot of guys who went from pro ball to coaching. Doug Brocail, who I had with Houston, was fresh off his retirement as a major league baseball pitcher and thrusted into being a pitching coach.”
“In a lot of ways it’s hard to ever leave this game, because honestly, for a lot of us, this is all we know having played this game our whole lives and to our luck we are all good at it. I enjoy being around the guys always seeing a young guy come in and try to offer advice to him.”
“It’s more rewarding to see them do well. Maybe (I’ll think about coaching) later on, once my career is done, if it’s in the cards. But right now, I love pitching and want to continue doing it for as long as I can.”
David Carpenter is truly a class act, both on and off the field. Given all the changes he’s made from his playing position to his trades, Carpenter is that rare player who approaches the game with heart and soul and a love for baseball that has stayed with him throughout his life. He’s a player to be respected and admired. As a pitcher for the Bridgeport Bluefish (and possible future coach?), Carpenter is one to watch and appreciate.
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