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Carroll grinds it out as pro
Former BHS, MTSU star Carroll facing multiple challenges with Marlins’ N.Y. Class A ‘short’ team


Has an early taste of professional baseball been overwhelming for Brett Carroll?

No, unless you consider that he’s preparing for a brand new position, struggling at the plate while modifying his swing, living with seven other guys and no TV, making $850 a month without a car, regularly making nine- to 11-hour one-way road trips while playing almost every day.

And he’s no longer treated like a stud athlete.


Carroll, a star shortstop at Bearden High School, earned All-Sun Belt honors and preseason All-American consideration as a third baseman at Middle Tennessee State University before being drafted by the Florida Marlins’ organization in the 10th-round of June’s Major League draft.

"Probably the biggest shock is that you're on your own," Carroll said about his first month playing multiple positions with the Jamestown Jammers in western New York, a member of the New York-Penn League, a Class A “short season” league.

"They expect you to do everything on your own, pretty much. In college you're somewhat spoon-fed, I think, with the glorious meals, the nice clubhouses. Here they pretty much tell you, 'you're a professional now, and it's a business,’ and they don't really care if you haven't gotten much sleep the night before, or you haven't eaten too much. It doesn't matter to 'em.

"There's no feeling sorry for yourself because you can't,” he added. “If you go 0-for (hitless) in a game you've got to act like a professional and come back the next day. You can't let it bother you."

So, Carroll must hate his life right now, right?

"I'm enjoying it," Carroll said. “I'm learning something new every day. We're pretty much at the park from two o'clock to (10:30) every night, or on the road. I can't complain, this is something I love to do.”

However, “it gets frustrating,” Carroll said. “I've had some buddies that have played professional baseball, and they tell you up front, 'it's a grind,’ but if it's something you really want to do, you stick with it.

“It's tough, because a lot of times with those roads trips, every day it's the same routine,” Carroll added about the grueling schedule that runs from mid-June through early September with long road trips and few days off. “I think it's around sixty-five to seventy-two (games). It's all baseball. Some guys like that, some guys don't.

“But that's what I came here to do. My goal is to make it to the Major Leagues, and you've got to have a lot of sacrifices.”

CATCHING

Wanting to take advantage of Carroll’s strong throwing arm, the Marlins will try to turn this 21-year-old infielder into a catcher.

“The last time I caught I was about fourteen years old,” he said. “But I think the future plans are I'll settle down as a catcher.

“When I was going through the draft, the Marlins called me and talked to me, and said 'we're thinking about turning you into a catcher, how do you fell about that?'” Carroll added. “That's fine with me because they think that I have the instincts and make-up to be a good catcher.

“They said the rule of thumb is that pitching and catching are the quickest ways to make it up. And from what I understand, the Marlins' organization is not as strong in the catching position. If I can catch onto it, hopefully pretty quick, and learn how to do it, I'm all (for) it.”

There’s one concern.

“The only thing that would worry me is maybe a few years squirting by just because, with catching in the bullpen, I've found out that it's pretty tough on your legs, a pretty good workout,” Carroll said.

Carroll will travel to the Marlins’ spring training home in Jupiter, Fla. in the off-season to work on his catching skills.

HITTING

In 16 games through Sunday, Carroll was only batting .218 (12 hits in 55 at-bats) with one home run.

Having played four positions in that stretch — left field, right field, second base in addition to his natural position of third base — “I think it's affected my mental game a little bit towards hitting, kinda worrying about other stuff,” Carroll said. “This game is even faster than college, and it's a little quicker pace. They'll throw you in a game and say, 'hey, you're playing center field today or whatever. They don't really care whether you've played there or not. They understand you haven't played there.”

MANAGING MONEY

Although Carroll’s meager monthly salary is offset to a large degree by his signing bonus — neither Carroll nor his family would disclose the amount — “you have to manage your money a little bit for it to last,” he said.

GOAL BY 2005

As for Carroll’s goal by 2005, “Because it'll be my first season as a catcher, they may not want to rush me,” he said. “Hopefully I catch onto it quick, but as long as I'm moving up when you're supposed to, I'll be easily satisfied because I'm starting out as a catcher.”

BOTTOM LINE

“I'm not a really multi-talented player, I have to just play hard every day,” Carroll said. “But for right now I'm just trying to get my feet wet. This is the first year of pro ball, they're not expecting you to come in and have a great year.

“It's gravy if you can have a great year, but it's just a big learning process.”

 

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