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Carson consistently impresses with defense

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- After Matt Carson slammed into the center-field wall at Goodyear Ballpark while making an incredible running catch Saturday night, the Indians outfielder started to have flashbacks of another run-in with a fence.

Carson ran full-speed into the padded wall in Oakland in 2010 while with the A's, attempting to chase down what turned out to be a home run. Carson separated his left shoulder and injured his jaw after crashing into the wall.

"The wall in Oakland, it actually gave a little bit," Carson said with a smirk. "This one's in the ground here, so it's not going anywhere. I'm glad I didn't quite hit it as hard. Fortunately for my face, [the wall in Oakland] gave a little bit."

The 31-year-old Carson made the catch in the third inning Saturday, robbing Giants catcher Jackson Williams of extra bases. Carson had one of his elbows jam him in the rib cage while making the grab, knocking the wind out of him. He quickly waved off head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff, who was jogging out to center with manager Terry Francona.

Francona has been impressed with Carson's defense all spring.

"He goes to play center field and he plays a good center field," Francona said. "He throws as good as anybody we have. There's a lot to like."

Carson, who is in camp on a Minor League contract as a non-roster invitee, knows Cleveland has plenty of center fielders already with Michael Bourn, Drew Stubbs, Michael Brantley and Ezequiel Carrera. Under the circumstances, Carson -- hitting .321 with four homers and eight RBIs this spring -- has been thrilled to receive as much playing time as he has.

"I've been very happy with the opportunities that I've gotten," Carson said. "All you can ask for is to get playing time, and to [Francona's] credit, he's gotten me in there as much as he can. I don't think anybody really does exactly what they want to do [during the spring], but I've felt like I've put a good foot forward.

"This is a great team. They've got a lot of good guys. I'm just looking, when the opportunity to comes, whether it's now, later or whatever, just to be ready."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"event":["spring_training" ] }
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