03/08/10 7:37 PM ET
Carter hits two homers in same frame
Mets outfielder goes long in ninth off two Marlins pitchers
By Marty Noble / MLB.com
Carter turned to another reporter and said, "Can't he talk to Omar later? I want Omar to watch me hit."
Minaya was involved in several conversations; in fact, he had turned away just before Carter sent a BP pitch beyond the right-field wall. Opportunity lost.
If Minaya was watching -- and he seemed to be -- a few hours later, he saw something that should have impressed him more than any batting-practice swing. Carter led off the ninth inning with a home run hit almost exactly where his unseen BP home run had landed. With that swing against Seth McClung, he doubled the Mets' lead to 4-2. Before the inning was complete, Carter had hit another home run -- same area, this one against Chris Schroder and with two runners on base.
His second swing accounted for the final score and certainly made an impression on the GM who had brought him in. Carter, 27, came to the Mets from the Red Sox on October, completing the August trade that moved Billy Wagner from Flushing to the Boston Fens. And even though his two-in-one came in an exhibition game, it did have some distinction.
It certainly is a baseball rarity, yet it has now happened twice in less than a week. Houston right fielder Hunter Pence hit two homers in the fourth inning of the Astros' 15-5 win over the Nationals on Thursday. He hit his first to left field against Shairon Martis to lead off the fourth and, like Carter, hit a three-run homer off Joel Peralta later.
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Rod Barajas also hit one out, against one-time Met Scott Strickland in the sixth inning. The Mets, who have won four consecutive games and six out of eight overall, had 12 hits, including two each from Carter, Ike Davis and Fernando Martinez.
John Maine had started, making his spring debut. With his pitch count restricted to 40, he threw 39, 21 for strikes, in 1 2/3 innings.
Pitching coach Dan Warthen acknowledged the club is limiting Maine more than the other likely starters to build arm stamina gradually and not strain the shoulder that has undermined the righty the past two seasons.
"I was pleased," Maine said. "I would have liked to have finished the inning, but I did reach the pitch count, and I've got plenty of time to build it up. ... I had pretty good life on my fastball. That's all I was looking for right now. I probably threw more balls than I should have because I wasn't getting my slider over."
Maine allowed one run, two hits and one walk.
The stabbing shoulder pain is long gone, but the Mets want to be cautious.
"With the question marks we have at two, three and four [Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez and Maine], each day those guys go out and throw strikes and compete is a big plus for us," manager Jerry Manuel said. "In all reality, it hinges on that for us."
"I'm sure there is [a question mark]," Maine said. "The only way I can answer that is to go out there every five days."
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.