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"Hey," says Carter, protesting, "that was at least a maybe."
"Only if I'm playing centerfield," says Corrales.
Carter hits the next pitch on a line to left centerfield. The ball leaves the park above the 410-foot marker, sailing past the left shoulder of the giant Marlboro Man who towers over the fence. Carter smiles. "If the ball hits that Marlboro sign, it's in play," deadpans Corrales.
"Yeah," says Carter, "but it's still going, and I'm still running." And with that he jogs into the clubhouse.
At 6'3", 215 pounds, Carter is a large man, but he has the rangy build of a born ballplayer, not the thick-muscled physique that is so much in vogue these days. As he changes in the clubhouse he is joined by Snyder, who has been shagging balls in rightfield. Snyder is Carter's height but leaner, a whipcord of a man, with thick forearms. He is blond, with a thin blond mustache, but his young face has a leathery look.
Snyder, the Brigham Young man, and Carter, who attended Wichita State before he disappeared into the Cubs system, represent the coming breed of player, whose rough spots have been smoothed over on campus rather than in the minor leagues. Both are thoughtful and analytical, and their conversation on this day covers, as they do, a lot of ground. They have much in common. Both, for example, are playing positions that are new to them. Carter came to the majors as strictly an outfielder, and when he arrived in Cleveland, he was platooned in left with Hall. When Corrales realized that Carter was a big league hitter, he moved him to first base so he could play every day. Now Carter plays both positions—leftfield against lefthanders, replacing Hall; first base against righthanders, replacing Tabler.
Snyder played mostly third and shortstop in college and the minors, but Corrales pegged him from the start as an outfielder. "We knew what we were getting with him—a great arm," says Corrales. Last year Snyder played 74 games in the outfield, 34 at short and 11 at third. This season he will play the infield only in an emergency.
"I never thought I'd be playing first base in the major leagues," says Carter, relaxing on the bench in front of his locker. Snyder is sprawled on a trunk opposite him. "But I go where they tell me. Everybody thinks first base is easy, but it's not. The reaction time is much different when compared with the outfield. An outfielder can relax a little, but when I'm playing first, I have to mind my P's and Q's on every pitch. I have to worry about bunts, pickoffs, relays. I'm in on almost every play. But I like it."
Snyder laughs. "And I never thought I'd be playing the outfield in the majors," he says. "But I'm having a good time out there. I don't think you can completely kick back, though. I've got to keep thinking of the situations. If I boot one, for example, I've got to know where to throw afterward, and I like using my arm on long throws. I think because I've got a strong arm and an infielder's quicker release, I've got an advantage. The fact is, I'm just happy to be here. I'd play anywhere."
"That's the thing," says Carter. "Just being here is important. I think my timing was all wrong in Chicago. They kept changing managers on me, and when a manager is worried about losing his job he's not going to take too many chances with a rookie. When they sent me down in '84, I was hitting the ball well and hard all the time. Then they traded for [Bob] Dernier and [Gary] Matthews. I got the feeling I had no future with that team. Coming to Cleveland was the best thing that could've happened to me. The team was young, and it wasn't going anywhere, so there was no pressure on me. I could relax and play every day. Relaxation is 50 percent of baseball. I know now that there will be days when I'll go oh for 4 or oh for 5. You don't have to accept that kind of failure, but you have to realize it's going to happen."