CLEVELAND: It was the best day in the professional life of Matt Carson, and now it’s over.
Fans who attended Thursday night’s game and saw him win it with an RBI single in the 11th inning might remember his achievement for years to come. But to most fans, Carson’s name will fade quickly.
He is unlikely to be part of the Tribe’s roster next year or even two weeks from now, if the club makes the playoffs. But he will remember what he called “the pinnacle” of his career.
Not unlike a couple of dozen other players, Carson was signed to a minor-league contract with an invitation to major-league-training camp.
“Every team signs minor-league free agents,” manager Terry Francona said Friday. “You go on scouts or sometimes people in the organization have a familiarity with a guy. It’s an opportunity for him.
“We felt Matt had a real good camp, played all three outfield positions. He was better than we anticipated. He got off to a slow start in the minors, and there was never any need to call him up earlier. But he was an easy call-up in September.”
Carson batted .252 with 14 home runs and 49 RBI in 436 at-bats for Triple-A Columbus. After being taken in the fifth round of the 2002 draft by the New York Yankees, Carson began an odyssey that took him to nine minor-league cities, where he played 1,250 games and racked up 4,643 at-bats.
His only big-league experience came in 100 games with the Oakland Athletics in 2009 and 2010, when he batted .286 with five homers and 14 RBI, and 26 games for the Minnesota Twins in 2012, when he batted .227.
In 44 career games as an outfielder, Carson has yet to make an error.
Not only has he won a game for the Indians, he is 7-for-9 at the plate with one home run and three RBI.
“I think he’s having the time of his life here,” Francona said. “That hit last night was a little bit of justice. He’s been such a good teammate, it was great to see him mobbed by his teammates. That was really exciting.”
At 32, the thought has occurred to Carson that the quest for a secure major-league job might not happen.
“We just had our third child, a little girl, in June,” he said. “It’s getting to that point in time … but any day you can contribute to your team.”
And his voice trailed off.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.