Sam Carter fights underdog stigma

After signing with the San Diego Padres last off-season as an undrafted free agent, Sam Carter knew he had to be fit coming into camp. He is, after all, the underdog.

Sam Carter accomplished his goals after producing in his initial campaign. With his natural leadership and work ethic, Carter wasn't sure he had a place in the new order of the system.

The benefit, of course, was that he was invited out to the Padres' Instructional League and very few who make it out there are let go the following year.

Still, he had something to prove after spending the year in the Arizona Rookie League.

And he enlisted the help of a fellow prospect.

"I wanted to get stronger," said Carter. "I wanted to pretty much put on a little weight at the end. I could lose a couple of pounds; I was getting kind of slow. I wanted to make sure I didn't lose that because I am an outfielder.

"Hitting everyday – I worked out with Mike Sansoe back home in California."

He picked a good partner as Sansoe essentially skipped Lake Elsinore after spending much of the year with Fort Wayne last year.

Dealing with the oppressive heat last season, Carter learned some valuable lessons. Even if the swing feels good, the mind can play tricks on you when the temperature hits triple digits consistency.

Carter prevailed – hitting .333 in August with seven extra base hits, including three homers, after hitting .212 through June and July. He ended the year hitting .278 with 24 RBIs, 24 walks and 36 K's.

Instead of going home, Carter stayed through Instructs to continue the learning process.

"They changed my swing a little bit," Carter said of Instructs. "I was kind of hunched over. They stood me up a little taller that way I could get a little more power. Got my hands going a little bit, tried to smooth me out."

While he felt comfortable with it at different points during Instructs and this spring, it is still a work in progress and he wasn't sure how it would react when he went "live".

The early returns show adjustments still need to be made, especially since he has been on the field for five games, despite the season being two weeks old. It was a combination of games postponed and the outfield rotation that has Carter working on finding that balance.

"I got pretty comfortable at the end of Instructs with it," explained Carter. "Right now, I am trying to find my timing. Little kinks here and there that pretty much everyone has to go through."

Given his improvements over the off-season, there is little doubt he will rebound as the season wears on.

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