By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
HE was looking to make his breakthrough in Major League Baseball last year, but an Achilles injury prevented Albert Cartwright from rising through the ranks in the Philadelphia Phillies organisation.
But having overcome what he called just a "setback", or a "speed bump" in the road, Cartwright said he is working towards an appearance at mini camp in March 1.
"I'll get out there and get some practice in case they need some guys for the big leagues," said the 24-year-old, who isn't concerned where he ends up, just as long as he makes a roster.
The 5-feet, 10-inches 180-pounder said he's in a Phillies' organisation that has a lot of veteran players. He's hoping that some of them will retire and allow the younger players like himself to step in.
"I think every player has his own unique talent," Cartwright pointed out. "For me, I like to take the game to how it used to be played with running, bunting and taking the extra bases. That's what I bring to the team."
Having already played four seasons in the minors since his was drafted twice, first by the New York Mets in the 43rd round of the 2006 MLB June Amateur Draft and again by the Houston Astros in the 36th round in 2007, Cartwright said he's ready for anything that comes his way.
"Coming up as a young boy from Freedom Farm, I wasn't always the best player," he reflected. "But I've had the hard work and the drive to play this game to make it to the next level."
Cartwright, who was spending some time with Antoan Richardson, who played briefly with the Atlanta Braves last year, said based on the history of his injury, a lot of players rarely make a full recovery.
"But I feel like Antoan, Geron (Sands) and Greg (Burrows), guys who have been before me, keep me in a positive mind, reminding me that I can make it back 100 percent," he stated.
Now Cartwright said he's ready for whatever challenge confronts him as he venture into 2012. He noted that Richardson's ability to play in the Majors has been an inspiration for him.
"Working out with Antoan, being there from day one, when he gave me the call telling me that he made it, I felt like I made it too because I've been there with him from day one," Cartwright charged.
"I've been there when unfortunately teams have cut him, when he's been 0-for-20, so when he called me and he made it to the big league, I felt I made it because I've been there with him."
With the possibility of him and Richardson playing against each other some day in the majors, Cartwright said he joked with Richardson that "when I get to Turner Field, he will have to buy me a steak dinner.
"So I feel it's a great possibility for the two of us to be playing in the majors at the same time," Cartwright quipped. "He's not too far away from me in Florida, so I believe we will be able to hook up."
Cartwright, along with Richardson and Richard Bain Jr., another budding pro player, were on hand on Wednesday as the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and the Bahamas Baseball Federation unveiled the new Andre Rodgers Baseball Stadium.
Not having a chance to play senior baseball because the old stadium was demolished before he moved up from the junior ranks, Cartwright said he got a chance to watch the older guys play.
"I think it's a key development just to have it," said Cartwright, of the construction of the stadium that should begin sometime this year. "It's exciting to see that it's in the process to be done."
Hopefully when it's done, Cartwright said he can return home to work out in it as a Major League player.