Former Sierra Vista High standout Chris Carter has displayed prodigious power in the minor leagues, producing 144 home runs and 485 RBIs over the past five seasons.
But the 6-foot-4-inch, 244-pound first baseman/designated hitter for the Sacramento River Cats has struggled in limited action in the majors the last two years, batting .167 (19-for-114) with 41 strikeouts in 39 games for the Oakland Athletics.
"I haven't really gotten many consistent at-bats up there," the 25-year-old Carter said. "I probably tried to do too much. I was overanxious and swinging at everything.
"Hopefully, I can get back up there and do what I do down here up there."
Carter, a Las Vegas resident, is off to a strong start for the River Cats (3-1), who rode a third-inning grand slam by Daric Barton to a 10-3 victory over the 51s (1-3) on Sunday at Cashman Field.
Starting at designated hitter while Barton mans first base during a rehab stint (shoulder), Carter is batting .400 with two doubles, two RBIs and five runs in three games.
"Chris can hit anybody, but he has to be prepared to hit," Sacramento manager Darren Bush said. "He has to make sure every day he comes to the field he has an intent and he's prepared for that day."
Carter made his major league debut with Oakland in 2010 and started 0-for-33. The hitless streak was the longest to begin a career by a non-pitcher since Vic Harris went 0-for-36 with Texas in 1972. Carter finished well, batting .351 (13-for-37) with three homers and seven RBIs in his final 13 games.
He was 6-for-44 (.136) for the A's last season with 20 strikeouts in 15 games.
"It's such a small sample size," Bush said. "He started out poor that first year but played really well the rest of the time. Last year, he didn't get a lot of at-bats. ... Once Chris is ready every day, the sky's the limit."
Carter missed two months early last season with a sprained left thumb, then was called up by Oakland two weeks after his return.
"It was hard coming back from that and getting back into the swing of it," he said.
Carter finished the year in Sacramento, batting .274 with 18 home runs and 72 RBIs, before being called up in September.
He fell short in his quest to make Oakland's roster out of spring training -- he hit .217 (5-for-23) with 10 strikeouts -- but is on the A's 40-man roster.
"Hopefully I'll get another call back up there," he said. "I still have full confidence I'll do good there, too."
Bush said the A's still think highly of Carter, a 15th-round draft pick by the Chicago White Sox in 2005. He was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2007 for outfielder Carlos Quentin before being shipped to Oakland 11 days later as part of a deal for pitcher Dan Haren.
"He's definitely in their plans," Bush said. "Chris is an outstanding player and an outstanding person, so I hope he can accomplish his goals."
■ NOTES -- The River Cats outscored the 51s 34-21 in the season-opening series and have won 15 of the last 17 games between the Pacific Southern Division foes. Sacramento has dominated the division for more than a decade, winning five straight titles and 10 of 12. Las Vegas hosts the Fresno Grizzlies (San Francisco Giants) today through Thursday all at 7:05 p.m. Right-hander Ryan Vogelsong, 13-7 with a 2.71 ERA for the Giants last season, is scheduled to start Tuesday for Fresno while he rehabs from a back strain. The Grizzlies also feature outfielder Francisco Peguero, the Giants' No. 5 prospect, as rated by Baseball America, and the No. 98 prospect overall, as ranked by mlb.com.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at email@example.com or 702-383-0354.