The Mets needed to free up 40-man roster spots during the offseason in order to add prospects they intended to protect from the Rule 5 draft. They even lost outfielder Fernando Martinez to the Houston Astros via waivers while trying to clear room.
But D.J. Carrasco, who signed a two-year, $2.4 million contract during the 2010-11 offseason, was unaffected by the roster turnover. He remains in camp. And while Terry Collins said the right-hander has to prove his worthiness during spring training, the manager agreed Carrasco has a leg up for one of the final two bullpen roster spots in part because of the remaining $1.2 million owed on his contract.
New York Mets
“I’m sure he’s probably aware of that,” Collins said. “But he’s also got to prove to us he can be successful.”
The bullpen locks should be Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez, Tim Byrdak and Manny Acosta.
Carrasco, 34, had a 6.02 ERA in 42 major league appearances last season and found himself dispatched to Triple-A Buffalo for six weeks.
Carrasco does not dispute he had a miserable season, calling it “poopy” at one point Wednesday. He said, though, that he was not fully healthy. He tore the intercostal muscle on his side the winter he signed with the Mets, and believes compensating as the injury lingered caused him to develop bad mechanics that limited the effectiveness of his sinker as a complement to his cutter.
“You do anything wrong long enough, it feels right. It’s a bad habit,” Carrasco said.
When Carrasco threw off a mound Wednesday, he varied arm angles, all the way from the ex-Met Sean Green submarine style to nearly overhand. Carrasco is expected to give varying looks to hitters this season assuming he makes the team.
“One of things I told D.J. is it’s really important to be comfortable,” Collins said. “He’s got to make the club. He knows it. And so I said, ‘Look, we’re not going to have you be a submariner if you’re not comfortable. That’s unfair for you. You’ve got to do what got you here.’ He said, ‘Look, I’ll just go to the different angles, which is what made me successful in the past. He’ll vary his slots, which is one of the things he likes to do.”
Carrasco knows he needs to perform in Grapefruit League play to make the team, even if the existing contract is an advantage, just as a player such as Acosta without minor league options remaining has a leg up too. Carrasco watched the Mets eat a combined $18 million on Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo last spring training. His remaining salary is only 6.7 percent of that amount.
“There’s never a sense of security in this game,” Carrasco said. “You saw with Oliver and them guys. That’s a lot more money than I had. If I’m going to help this team win, then I think they should consider that. If I’m not, do the best 25 guys. That’s what the big leagues is all about.”
Asked what he could put his finger on that went wrong last year, Carrasco said with a laugh: “Everything. I could put my whole fist on last year to improve on. Obviously last year was a struggle for me big time, all around. There was some aches and pains I didn’t address, and it got the best of me. There was a lot that I couldn’t do, and No. 1 was basically I didn’t have a sinker at all last year. There was no consistency to the sinker. There was no late movement. And with me throwing cutters all the time, you’ve got to have something to complement it. Last year I couldn’t do it.”
“This guy’s had pretty good success. He had a horri … ,” Collins said, stopping mid-word. “He had a bad year and he’s the first to stand up and admit it. As we’ve told him, ‘We signed you because we know you can fit. We know you can help us in a certain way.’”