Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Carpenter Isn't Open to Role as Rangers' Closer

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Carpenter Isn't Open to Role as Rangers' Closer

Article excerpt

Cris Carpenter has played with superb closers: Lee Smith, Bryan Harvey, Tom Henke. The experience taught Carpenter one thing.

Do not call him a closer.

"The closers I've been with before their stuff is awesome," Carpenter said. "I don't have that kind of stuff.

"I just happen to be the guy in at the end of the game. I don't label myself a closer. The bottom line is the game is usually on the line when you're out there. That's all that needs to be known. I don't want to add all the other stuff to it."

The "other stuff" cannot be avoided. However reluctant Carpenter may be, he is the closest thing the Rangers have to a closer with Henke out because of a back ailment. Carpenter could remedy a difficult situation for the Rangers by taking on the physical and emotional demands of the closer.

Entering Friday's game against Boston at Fenway Park, the bullpen has as many blown saves as saves, with 10. Without Henke, the ninth inning has become a mad adventure, with manager Kevin Kennedy shuttling in relievers. In the last 13 games, the Rangers twice have taken a lead into the ninth and lost.

This rubs raw the collective nerves of a team. A set closer can soothe a team. Carpenter is the logical choice for the role, if only he would warm to it.

"A lot of guys feel uncomfortable with it," pitching coach Claude Osteen said. "What it is is that the term `closer' itself just automatically puts all kind of pressure on you. It tends to put a little more (pressure) on you as far as expectations. Closer is a positive word that means `The End.'

"There's no place in that meaning for failure."

The Rangers believe Carpenter has the physical qualifications for the job. He has two out pitches in the fastball and forkball. In the crucial category of first-batter-faced, Carpenter ranks eighth in the American League by allowing only three hits in 23 at-bats. …

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