Carpenter: Comfortable in relief role now

February, 24, 2012
2/24/12
10:41
AM ET
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The newest member of the Boston Red Sox knows there are high expectations when playing for this organization, but when you are the guy who was compensation for Theo Epstein, it grows by leaps and bounds.

Pitcher Chris Carpenter arrived at the Red Sox player development complex Thursday afternoon after being traded from the Chicago Cubs to Boston on Tuesday in the deal that settled compensation for Epstein.

“It’s something you really don’t think about, but it’s kind of cool,” Carpenter said Friday morning in the Sox clubhouse before heading out for workouts. “It was a little bit of a shock. I’m excited to be here.”

“I have a lot of friends and family back at home who are Red Sox fans, and there are some who are Cubs fans,” added Carpenter. “They are two good organizations.”

Carpenter explained that all the minor league guys in the Cubs organization would talk about it over the course of the offseason because they figured one of them would be the player that would end up going to Boston.

“I’m really excited,” he said. “I know (the Red Sox) have high expectations. I’m not coming in here trying to change anything, I just want to hop on board and help them win games.”

Epstein was in Boston when the deal was finalized, so Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer called Carpenter into his office to tell him about the trade. Epstein later called Carpenter and left him a “really nice” voicemail.

“I’ve met Theo and Jed and they’re both good guys in the short time I’ve known them,” Carpenter said.

The 26-year-old reliever began his career as a starter, but the Cubs organization decided to move him into the bullpen last season.

“It took me a little bit of time to adjust to the reliever role,” he said. “Looking back at last year, I think what really hurt me was my first couple of months and I finally adjusted to the role the last couple of months of the season. I’m a little more comfortable.”

Chicago recalled him late in the season and he pitched a total of 10 games for the Cubs, with a 2.79 ERA in 9 2/3 innings.

“It was a great experience. It was a great time up there,” he said. “I learned a lot, just as I will here.”

It’s still unclear what his role will be with this Red Sox team or whether he will start the season in the minors. Carpenter, who is wearing No. 66 in camp, hasn’t met or talked to Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine yet, but he’s not expecting anything to be handed to him.

“Nothing is given to you. You’ve got to work for everything and keep getting better every day,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter has never met the other Chris Carpenter, the right-handed former Cy Young-winning pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, but is constantly asked about it.

“I’ve heard it a lot,” he said. “I just say to everybody, ‘Hopefully I can be half as good as that guy because he can really pitch.’”

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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