PHOENIX -- Matt Carson's professional career has taken him through nearly 3,500 at-bats.
Only 100 of them have come in the big leagues, and Carson is ready to take on thousands more Minor League plate appearances if it means he gets just one more in The Show.
"That's why we're all here," Carson said. "That's where you want to be."
The 29-year-old A's outfielder, a former Yankees fifth-round Draft pick who is entering his 10th professional season, will first have to find his way on to the 40-man roster. Carson's in camp as a non-roster player following two seasons that have resulted in a combined 46 games with Oakland, where he's not so much a central part of future plans, but rather one of several backup options.
David DeJesus, Coco Crisp, Josh Willingham, Ryan Sweeney and Conor Jackson make for a crowded outfield, and Chris Carter's looming presence makes it all the more crunched. As a result, Carson has come to terms with his role in the organization.
2010 Spring Training - Major League Baseball
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"It seems I'm always kinda teetering back and forth," Carson said. "Last year it was a similar situation where there were a lot of outfielders. Basically, I can only do what I can and let the rest fall where it may. The guys that they have, they're all great guys, great players, and they deserve to be where they're at. I've had some opportunities in the past. Last year, I was given a good amount of at-bats, and I didn't capitalize on them."
Carson hit .177 with four home runs and nine RBIs in 36 games over four stints with the A's in 2010 -- numbers that paled in comparison to his .303 average and 13 home runs through 64 games with Triple-A Sacramento. Much of those struggles came as a result of adjusting to an inconsistent playing schedule, something former teammate Gabe Gross knew all about.
"I'd talk to him, and he'd always tell me to look at pitchers who are coming up in future series," Carson said. "Me, being a righty, I'd look to see how the lefties attack guys. Sometimes, you prepare so much in advance, that you're so pumped up and you almost try to do too much and put everything into that one day. It's just a matter of almost backing off and finding that happy medium of that comfort zone."
Carson's long journey has been eased by the support of his wife, high school sweetheart Lisa, who has been with him through it all. In 2008, the couple welcomed daughter Mackenzie and most recently added to the family with the birth of another daughter, Addison, this past offseason. The trio of girls, Carson said, keeps his often-trying days in perspective.
"It's not necessarily frustrating because I know the situation and I know what my role has to be, but it's frustrating to not produce when I get the opportunity," Carson said. "As far as the opportunities I get, I'm happy for them, but it's just a matter of me figuring out how to make good on them.
"Being a father, I think it's been a big part of me developing as a player and being able to get away from the field on a daily basis. When I'm playing with my kids or changing a diaper, I'm not thinking, 'How did I miss that slider?'"
In the meantime, Carson will accept each at-bat in stride. He's 2-for-8 with two doubles this spring and ready to prove he's more than just an afterthought on the depth chart.