America's League

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Former league MVP returns to Falmouth in new role

06/18/2011 11:15 AM

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     First-year assistant coach Daniel Carte is not all that new to the Falmouth organization. Carte roamed the outfield of Arnie Allen Diamond during the summer of 2004, developing a strong relationship with team president Christine Clark and general manager Bob Clark.

      During that impressive summer, he hit .308, and led the league with 11 home runs and 38 RBIs. He was the sixth player in league history to collect double-digit home runs and steals (13). To no one’s surprise, his prolific performance earned him the Pat Sorenti MVP award and Baseball America’s “National Summer Player of the Year.”

     Returning to Falmouth as the new assistant coach, Carte brings the value and experience of that success. But his past challenges and struggles will also prove invaluable in his new coaching role.

     Looking at Carte’s final stat line from seven years ago, few would have realized that he started his Cape League career 0-for-19 as the Commodores lost their first five games. Many players would lose confidence in their ability after such a horrid start, and many field managers would start looking for other solutions. But Falmouth field manager Jeff Trundy maintained faith in his struggling player.

     “He really believed in me and that gave me the confidence I needed,” Carte said.

     After the slow start, Carte and the Commodores turned their season around. “I got a walk-off home run, and things turned around for the team,” he said.

     In fact, Carte did a complete 180. His next two hits were also home runs, resulting in his first three hits on the Cape being round-trippers. In the end, Carte brought home some personal hardware and the Commodores finished first in the Western Division. His success on the Cape positioned him as a high draft pick the following summer. He was selected 52nd overall in the second round by the Colorado Rockies.

     Carte’s start in pro ball was similar to his early struggles on Cape Cod. He batted only .225 with 6 home runs and 25 RBIs in 62 games for the Short-Season Tri-City Dust Devils in 2005. It was not until 2007 that he experienced his first productive year at the pro level, batting .283 with 14 home runs and 71 RBIs for the Modesto Nuts in the High-A California league. His newfound success earned him a promotion to the Double A Tulsa Drillers, but minor foot problems arose, and his performance slipped. He ended the year at a respectable .273 with 10 homers and 59 RBIs.

     He remained at Double A and it was the same story the following year. He started the season well, but foot problems resurfaced, although Carte decided to play through them before a stress fracture was diagnosed. He wound up hitting only .214 with 5 home runs and 28 RBI in 77 games. The Rockies released him the following year.

     Hoping for one more shot, he signed with the Pittsfield (Mass.) Colonials of the Can-Am League. Carte crushed Can-Am League pitching, leading in hitting (.347) — he was flirting with .400 until the final weeks of the season — and finishing fourth in RBIs (67). He also launched 12 home runs, while setting a league record with a 30-game hitting streak. Still, no major league organizations called. Unwilling to gear up for another year in independent ball, he made one of the toughest choices a professional player could ever make — he retired. But had no intention of leaving the sport entirely, which is how he finds himself back in Falmouth.

     Since his freshman days at Winthrop University, Carte has always had a desire to become a baseball coach. “Being around, helping kids, sharing wisdom, I think I can make an impact on kids’ lives, which is something I value,” he said.

     He used his networking contacts from Winthrop to search for a coaching job. Understanding he lacked experience, he gathered a list of schools where he could start as a lower level assistant. During this process, he called Trundy to catch up on the time gone by. He had no intention of coming to Cape Cod. But then Trundy phoned out of the blue and offered him a position as assistant coach.

     “It’s a great opportunity. There is no better place to start, to get into college coaching especially with no experience,” Carte said. “He treats players the best way. Some coaches try to tinker with the players, but he doesn’t interfere or micromanage. He has the perfect level of leadership and makes guys feel comfortable.”

     Although hiring a coach without any experience may seem risky, it could be an advantage in this case. As a recent alum of the Commodores, Carte has first-hand knowledge of the challenges in the CCBL, so players are likely to listen to his guidance.

     “Do your best at focusing on the task at hand, don’t worry about radar guns and clip boards, be comfortable with who you are and play your game, don’t compete with guys in batting practice,” he said.

     Leave it to Trundy to give Carte another shot on the Cape, because the last time he stuck with him, it proved to be worthwhile.