VIERA, Fla. -- It's safe to say reliever Adam Carr was the Nationals' Minor League Comeback Player of the Year in 2010.
After the 2009 season came to an end, Carr had a feeling the Nationals might release him. The right-hander didn't help himself by having two consecutive subpar seasons. In '09, for example, Carr went a combined 2-7 with a 6.18 ERA for Class A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg.
It's not like Carr, 25, never showed the organization that he had talent. A year after being drafted in the 18th round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, Carr made it all the way to Harrisburg. But he couldn't find success after 2007 and was sent back to Potomac two years later.
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"It was shortly after the Trade Deadline where he was a borderline release. As an opposing set of eyes assessing the player, he didn't show stuff, he didn't show command and he didn't show pitch ability. He was really searching for himself."
Carr went home to California after the 2009 season and said to himself, "I'm not done. I know I can play this game. I'm not finished yet."
When he arrived in Minor League Spring Training the next year, Carr decided to focus on things he could control -- work hard, throw strikes and focus on making the Minor League team. He wanted to show Washington that he could pitch in the Minor Leagues.
Carr's dedication paid off in a big way. He ended up being one of the best relievers in the team's farm system, going a combined 6-2 with a 2.75 ERA for Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse. That success carried over into the Arizona Fall League. He posted a 2.08 ERA in 10 appearances for the Scottsdale Scorpions.
Why was Carr successful last year?
"Fastball location was much better," he said. "With me slowing down my delivery, I took more time in-between pitches and it allowed me to breathe instead of just getting after it in a fast pace. By having that mentality -- slowing things down -- it allowed the changeup and slider to work more. Slowing down my delivery allowed all my pitches to work better."
For his success, Carr was put on the 40-man roster and invited to Spring Training. He has pitched two shutout innings during the exhibition season.
"Going into last year, it was the last thing I ever expected," Carr said about being placed on the 40-man roster. "My expectations were to come in, work hard and stick around. Let the rest take care of itself. It's so funny when you turn your back to all that stuff, everything that you want to happen, happens.
"When I got the call from Doug Harris, I was just happy. It was a big sigh of relief. Going into last year, I wasn't an idiot, I knew I had better do something special or I would be going home. I was just fortunate enough to be put on the 40-man roster. It makes you appreciate things. I'm experiencing a little bit of the good."
Carr, who is projected to be a middle reliever in the Majors, is not looking ahead when it comes to making his big league debut. He has the same philosophy that he had entering the 2010 season. Take one day at a time.
"That's not my call. It goes back to what I've been focusing on since last year -- it's just taking it day by day," Carr said. "What am I going to do to make myself better for tomorrow? The rest of that stuff is going to take care of itself."
A great comeback story indeed.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.