ATLANTA — Ezequiel Carrera spent eight days in baseball limbo. The setting was Columbus, Ohio, where Carrera lives. He went to the gym. He waited for a phone call.
The Phillies claimed him off waivers Tuesday from the Cleveland Indians. He arrived to Turner Field in time for early batting practice. Charlie Manuel, his new manager, issued a brief scouting report of the 25-year-old outfielder. "I knew he showed up," Manuel said, and that was a fine start.
"We'll see what we got," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.
Carrera's speed could make him an asset. This spring, he stole 11 bases. That led all major-league players. The Venezuelan native said he was more aggressive.
"I took more chances," Carrera said through a translator. "I realized it was something I could do. Bringing it into the season, I have more confidence I can be a good base stealer."
He stole 187 bases in eight minor-league seasons. He was an exceptional threat at triple-A Columbus in 2011. He stole 35 bases in 39 attempts. That dipped to 26 of 33 in 2012.
In 116 games with Cleveland, 88 of which were starts, Carrera stole 18 bases and was caught six times. Carrera can play all three outfield positions. He bats lefthanded.
The Phillies opted for him over Ender Inciarte, a Rule 5 pick with similar skill set. Inciarte never played a game above single A. Carrera's experience made him more valuable.
Should Inciarte clear waivers, Arizona is expected to recover his rights by paying the Phillies $25,000.
"I'd love to keep him in our system, but that’s gonna be up to [Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers] if he gets through waivers," Amaro said. "They can still actually trade him to another club if they want the guy. I don’t think that’s gonna happen. We’ll see. I’d like to keep him. 'Pretty please, can you trade him to us?' I don’t think that works."
Carrera has promise. Cleveland's acquisitions of Michael Bourn and Drew Stubbs made him expendable there. Baseball America rated Carrera as the best defensive outfielder and baserunner in the International League in 2011.
"I was surprised a little bit because we had some conversations and they made me believe I was going to be a part of the future over there," Carrera said. "When those guys came on board, I knew I had no more options. I wasn't sure what was going to happen. It surprised me a little bit. It caught me off guard a bit."
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