VIERA, Fla. - When the Nationals traded Josh Willingham to the Oakland Athletics in December, most of the feedback about the deal centered around Henry Rodriguez, the hard-throwing reliever they'd get from Oakland in return. But the trade also meant they'd get outfielder Corey Brown, a left-handed hitter with some power and speed who might be able to lead off for them one day. And for Brown, it meant he'd be reunited with his college roommate.
That would be reliever Adam Carr, another hard-throwing righty who is battling for a spot in the Nationals' crowded bullpen this spring after an impressive year at Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse last year. Carr struck out 67 batters in 71 innings across the two levels last year, and pitched in the Arizona Fall League for the Nationals.
He was two years ahead of Brown at Oklahoma State University, but the two players lived together in 2006, when Carr was still a slugging first baseman and Brown was a sophomore center fielder. The Cowboys earned the top seed in the Fayetteville Regional of the NCAA Tournament that year, but they lost in the regional tournament, and when Carr got drafted by the Nationals as a pitcher, the two players slowly fell out of touch. They traded text messages at first, but Brown got drafted as a sandwich pick by the A's in 2007, and he and Carr lost track of each other.
But when the trade went through this winter, Brown knew he'd be greeted by a familiar face in Nationals camp. He's living with Carr again, and their friendship has come right back to life. After Brown was told to separate from his hitting group yesterday, missing a chance to face Carr in live batting practice, he left the field to taunts from Carr that he'd been ducking him.
"It's like we never missed a beat," Brown said.
And though it's possible Carr will make the team out of spring training, it's more likely both players will start the year at Syracuse together, too.
"You go to a new organization, and you figure you won't know anybody," Brown said. "But it's nice seeing a familiar face."