Outfielder Brett Carroll has bounced around a lot the last couple of seasons, so he is thrilled with the chance to impress on one team this spring training and work to secure a spot on the Nationals' 25-man roster.
"The last four years I have been up and down in that fourth outfield role," the 29-year old Carroll said. "It has been a great experience, a blessing and it's been a grind. It was a lot of learning. There is a lot of adversity through that kind of role when you are used to playing every day. That has prepared me for a season like this, an opportunity that this team could possibly present. I am excited about that."
The former Middle Tennessee State star began last season with Kansas City, then traded to Milwaukee in the spring. Went to Triple-A there. Once he found out he wasn't going to play in the majors, he actually was looking forward to playing every day in the minors and getting regular at-bats.
"It gave me a chance to hone my craft and work on the things I needed to work on," Carroll said. "Each day I knew coming to the park I was going to play. I gained more experience by playing mostly center field."
He then got called up only to be sent down when Jerry Hairston Jr. arrived with Milwaukee from the Nationals. Carroll finished off the season with the Red Sox organization in Triple-A Pawtucket.
"(Last season was) a little bit of everywhere," Carroll remembered. " I am excited about coming to the Nationals because all of these things have shaped and molded me into the player I am today."
And when others speak of the strength of Brett Carroll it is his right throwing arm. Carroll said that is where he was able to make a name for himself early on in the majors.
"That was the role I filled when I got called up with the Florida Marlins," Carroll said. "It is a gift from the Lord. I throw a lot. It strengthens your arm, but just from a young age I have always enjoyed throwing a baseball. Moving to the outfield allowed me to air it out because working in the infield I kind of had some control issues. I didn't know how to dial it down. I don't want to just come up and throw it everywhere but I was able to just let it go and it allowed me to have a lot of fun out there."
He never played high school or college football (he did play PeeWee football), and said he was more of a basketball and baseball guy in high school. He now wishes he had played football because it would have been the opposite season to baseball.
Carroll remembers how the Marlins would dominate the Nationals but now he feels like that has changed last season and really seems to be different this year. He remembers talking to former teammate Josh Willingham when he was in D.C. and sensing there was a change in attitude building with the Nationals.
"The guys (that were) here in years past it may have been a little different," Carroll said. "They got the guys in here now with the right kind of makeup and guys just want to play and play hard. I think that is what (manager) Davey (Johnson) expects. Obviously, when you have a manager like Davey who has a lot of experience playing and managing, I think what he is going to demand is you just play hard and go about your business and there are no problems. That is the way I like to play, I just like to play the game."