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New Ducks manager Carter still has eye on majors

Gary Carter is back in New York. He is the manager of a baseball team. He's happy and energetic, but he still wants more.

Carter is the manager of the independent Atlantic League's Long Island Ducks, who open their season tonight at Southern Maryland. But he has made no secret about his desire to manage in the major leagues.

"I think this is a great chance for me,'' Carter said. "We're talking about players that have been in the major leagues. This might be a good test for me and other organizations to see what I can do as a manager. When you are in this game for as long as I have been, there's something still missing that I would like to accomplish. I have accomplished it as a player. I want to try and accomplish it as a manager.''

Carter, a Hall of Fame catcher and member of the 1986 champion Mets, said his goal is to manage a major league team, but he is focused on leading the Ducks to a championship.

"It was and still is,'' Carter said of becoming a big-league manager. "My real goal now is to manage this ballclub and to help them. I'll re-evaluate at the end of this year. I've pretty much made my feelings known of what I would like, but that's not the emphasis.

"If it happens, great. I'm ready also to move on. I have other options and opportunities. I did the broadcasting thing. I see Dave Winfield on ESPN on Baseball Tonight as an analyst. Could I possibly do something like that again? Yeah.''

Carter was the Gulf Coast League Manager of the Year in 2005, won the same award in the Florida State League in 2006 and won the Florida State League championship with the St. Lucie Mets that season. He led the Orange County Flyers to a championship in the Gold Baseball League last season and was that league's Manager of the Year.

Carter said he didn't come to New York to get attention. He said he returned to be in area where he lived for five years and still has a lot of friends.

"I like the idea of being on the East Coast," Carter said. "My passion and love is on the field. If it does materialize into something in the future at the major league level, that would be great. If it doesn't, I understand the way the game works. I'm still not at the new ballpark or in the major leagues, but it's still baseball."

Carter has liked what he has seen from the Ducks, who have added several former major leaguers, including outfielders Preston Wilson and Lew Ford and pitchers Brad Halsey and Dan Miceli. Other key additions are infielder Ron Davenport and outfielder Raul Gonzalez. Pitcher Randy Leek and outfielder Ray Navarrete, two key players from last season, return to the Ducks.

Though Carter said the Ducks are his focus, it's clear the majors are still on his mind.

"I was thinking that 42 percent of the managers at the major league level last year were ex-catchers,'' he said. "I think I qualify. Nevertheless, it doesn't always happen that way. I have really accepted that. I really want to put the emphasis on that I'm really concentrating on this year."

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