Chris Carpenter was the proverbial player to be named later.
The 26-year-old righthander was acquired from the Cubs Feb. 21 as the much-anticipated compensation for former Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, who bolted Boston to become president of baseball operations in Chicago.
When Carpenter had to have surgery to repair bone spurs in his right elbow at the end of spring training, there was a perception that he was damaged goods, but he’s proven to be anything but in Triple A Pawtucket.
After making five rehab appearances before joining the PawSox July 17 (two apiece in the Gulf Coast League and Single A Greenville, one in Double A Portland), Carpenter has allowed one earned run (a solo homer) on six hits and five walks while striking out 13 batters in 10 innings of relief over 10 games. He earned his second save with an inning of two-hit scoreless relief July 31.
“He was a guy we saw in the Fall League and he’s got a real good arm,’’ said Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler. “A lot of potential, and he throws a real good slider. He’s been fun to watch.’’
In his last two appearances, Carpenter was lights out, throwing a pair of shutout innings and ringing up a pair of strikeouts each time.
“You’re going to have your strengths and the hitter is going to have their weaknesses,’’ Carpenter said. “But I like to pitch to my strengths a lot more than what other people think that hitter can’t hit.’’
“He’s got really good stuff,’’ said Pawtucket pitching coach Rich Sauveur. “Very nice slider, sharp slider, electric fastball. We did a little tinkering with his upper-body movement, just to tone it down a little bit, and it seems like it’s helped a lot, I think.’’
It seemed to help the 6-foot-4-inch, 220-pounder improve his location.
“Yeah, he was up in the zone a little bit,’’ Sauveur said. “Pretty much the same thing we did with [Andrew] Miller.’’
Carpenter attended Kent State University and was Mid-American Conference Pitcher of the Year in 2008, three years after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He had a second operation in 2006 after complications arose, resulting in a protracted 20-month recovery.
“I feel great,’’ Carpenter said. “I feel really good. It was just an unfortunate thing, getting hurt when I got here. But it’s in the past and it’s one of those things where I’m just looking forward and not looking in the past.
“I was able to get myself healthy with the help of a lot of people and I’m excited for the future.’’
Carpenter, who made his major league debut with the Cubs June 14, 2011, entered the season with great promise, ranked by MLB.com as the No. 8 prospect in the Red Sox system. Now he is working to get back to the majors.
“He’ll be pitching up there sometime, because his stuff is that good,’’ Beyeler predicted. “He’s been in the big leagues before — for a reason — and he’ll be back.’’
When the Red Sox acquired third baseman Danny Valencia in a game-day trade with the Twins last Sunday, it triggered a whirlwind of events for him. One minute, he was in uniform sitting in the visitors dugout at Fenway, and the next he was standing face-to-face with Sox GM Ben Cherington, being welcomed to the organization and given his marching orders.
“It’s pretty crazy how fast things like that happen,’’ said Valencia, who reported to Pawtucket Wednesday after returning from Minnesota, where he had to pack up the belongings in his apartment for the move. “I was about to play our fourth game there in Boston and I wasn’t in the lineup and so I thought something was up, because typically I would be playing against a lefty.
“I was sitting on the bench and then they called me into the office and they officially told me, ‘Hey, you’ve been traded to the Red Sox,’ which was pretty weird because we were in Fenway. It’s just pretty crazy how stuff like that happens and so I’m happy to be over here.’’
Valencia, who hit .198 in 34 games with the Twins, could create a bit of a logjam at third base, where the PawSox have had four players start, including Mauro Gomez, a first baseman/DH who showed versatility when he was called up to Boston to provide infield depth and took a turn at third.
“With Danny coming in here, he’ll play third base and we’ll move these guys around,’’ Beyeler said. “He’s another bat we can throw into the lineup. He’s a proven hitter who was a really good player when he came up through the minor leagues and he’s a big leaguer.’’
Valencia led the Twins with 72 RBIs last season.