NEW BRITAIN - Mike Carp likely never wanted to come home from Lancaster.
The New Britain Bees designated hitter closed out last weekend’s series against the Barnstormers with a pair of multi-hit games, both which resulted in wins for the Bees.
Carp blasted a grand slam in Saturday’s game before picking up two more hits in Sunday’s win to cap off a successful road trip for the team, and especially for Carp himself. In the four-game set with Lancaster, Carp picked up eight RBI and lifted his season OPS to above .800, all while nursing a bad hamstring that has kept him off the field so far with New Britain, and has drastically affected his baserunning.
“He’s a consummate professional,” Bees hitting coach Chuck Stewart said of Carp. “He can flat-out hit. The hamstring is coming around and I don’t think it’ll hold him back anymore. It’s all forward from here. He’s been swinging a good bat.”
Despite the injury that put a cap on Carp’s early usage with the Bees, the lefty has already smacked five home runs as one of the newest members of the lineup, good for the fourth-highest mark on the team despite only logging nearly a quarter as many plate appearances due to his late arrival. Carp, a former World Series champion with the Red Sox, has consistently put together quality at-bats for the Bees, helping the team move to the top of the Atlantic League in walks while dropping to the second-lowest strikeout total as a group.
“We really stress swinging at strikes and being a disciplined hitter, and waiting for your pitch and getting the most out of it,” Stewart explained. “They’ve listened and followed through with that. Fortunately, they’re also a bunch of really good hitters to begin with. But they’ve stuck with our plan and so far, so good.”
Carp has been in the middle of the Bees’ offensive production, normally slotted in the heart of the order and dealing heavy damage to opposing pitchers. Carp’s role as a focal point of New Britain’s offensive is even more impressive when considering his path to the team. Not only did Carp limp to the Bees with a bad hamstring, but he arrived with a calcified layer of rust after being away from professional baseball since 2015. Still, the 33-year-old has shown little signs of needing a refresher at the plate. If anything, he looks as if he’s been with the team since Opening Day.
“I didn’t know exactly how long it had been [since he played], but after taking a lot of batting practice and swinging the bat, it didn’t take him long to get that swing back,” Stewart said. “He’s been hitting home runs, even in pinch hit spots. He’s a born hitter.”
Carp’s swing is certainly back (three more hits in Monday’s game against Somerset further proved that) and if he continues to produce at this pace, he could be seen as a pivotal part of a Bees run to the postseason. If Carp and the Bees want to accomplish that goal, they won’t be able to slow down over the final two weeks of the season. Luckily, it doesn’t look like Carp will be slowing down any time soon.
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org