MESA, Ariz. The black Jaguar pulled into the parking lot right around 8 a.m.
Chris Carpenter and Trey McNutt got out of the sports car on Tuesday and walked toward the Cubs complex. Carpenter punched in the key code at Fitch Park, and McNutt followed his roommate through the glass doors.
That morning, Carpenter would be called into an office and told that he was traded to the Boston Red Sox as the compensation for Theo Epstein. McNutt would have to call his wife for a ride back home to North Scottsdale.
I feel like Im in high school, McNutt said.
McNutt had his wife take their pickup truck to work. Out of nowhere, a 32nd-round pick from small-town Alabama had emerged as arguably the organizations best pitching prospect, a player the Red Sox targeted once Epstein decided to leave for a presidents job with the Cubs last October.
The long-winding negotiations went in a different direction. So Carpenter, who described the day as kind of surreal, becomes the answer to a baseball trivia question.
My name will go down in history, I guess, Carpenter said.
The Cubs selected Carpenter, 26, out of Kent State University in the third round of the 2008 draft. He made his big-league debut last season, but struggled during his transition to being a reliever at Triple-A Iowa, posting a 6.53 ERA in 22 games.
Still, the Red Sox are getting a power bullpen arm who can throw close to 100 mph.
I appreciate everything the Cubs have done for me, Carpenter said. Its been a great organization over the past four years and Im looking forward to going to Boston and helping them win now.
If youre going to pick two teams to play for, why not the Cubs and the Red Sox? You cant complain about that.
While the Epstein compensation drama played out, Carpenter and McNutt lived and trained together throughout the offseason. They talked about it during the Arizona Fall League with Andrew Cashner, another name floated, and since traded to the San Diego Padres.
The Red Sox had zeroed in on the 22-year-old McNutt, a potential mid-rotation starter Baseball America judges to be the organizations fourth-best prospect heading into 2012.
Instead, McNutt was planning to spend the rest of Tuesday helping Carpenter load up his car, which will be shipped to Red Sox camp in Florida.
I just hate it for him that he has to leave right at the last second, McNutt said. Its just a big hassle. Spring trainings already stressful enough, especially when youre trying to win a job and now hes got to worry about packing up all his stuff and moving all the way across the (country).
But hell be fine.Ive never met a guy (tougher) than him mentally, so I dont think this is going to bother him. It wont faze him.
So McNutts life wont be turned upside down. Maybe one day hell make it to the show and become part of those Cubs teams Epstein promises will be playing annually in October.
But for now, all this meant was that McNutt could move to a different part of the place they shared with two other Cubs minor-league players. Carpenter had the master bedroom, and McNutt was calling it. Baseball history could wait. The guy just needed a ride home.
One guy was living in the living room, McNutt said. Well all have a bedroom now.