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Carter a driving force at home and for Astros

Houston slugger has passion for Mustangs, honored to win MLB award

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NEW YORK -- Chris Carter has power, and we aren't just talking about 30 homers in 110 games.

You can start with the 850-horsepower Shelby Mustang GT500 waiting for him back in Las Vegas.

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"It's at home, because the Shelby factory is in Vegas and I got some things done to it while I've been playing," Carter said. "So it actually just got done a couple of days ago. It's my toy."

The Astros designated hitter and the newest American League Player of the Week was in the MLB.com studios Tuesday to appear in the Edward Jones Chatting Cage. Carter has the most homers in Major League Baseball since July 1 with 17, and his last one before this Yankees series came just as modifications were made to his Shelby.

The 27-year-old slugger from Vegas says cars are his main passion other than baseball, and specifically the Mustang breed. Carter loves to talk about Mustangs, grew up with them, and the 2010 Shelby is his pride and joy. Ask him if he has seen "Gone in 60 Seconds," and he replies, "I've seen it at least 20 times." Ask him the name of the Shelby in that flick, and he'll tell you right away: "Eleanor."

Carter's car has no name. But it makes its presence felt, like the driver.

"My first car was a V6, and once I got enough money to get a Shelby, I got one," Carter explained. "Ever since then, it's just been what I love to drive. I look forward to driving it in the offseason when I'm at home. Sometimes I'll go for a drive for no reason around town and come back home."

Carter said he also has an early-model Mustang at home in Vegas. Why the fascination with Mustangs?

"My parents always had one when I was growing up," he said. "I felt like every year it was a new model. They always had one. ... I think my mom's first car was a '68 Mustang."

In the Chatting Cage, Carter touched on a wide variety of topics, including what it meant to receive the Player of the Week recognition. He batted .321 with four homers, nine RBIs and a 1.083 OPS last week. It was especially rewarding considering the 3-for-38 stretch Carter endured from June 14 to July 1, and the result of considerable work to shorten his swing.

"It's a big honor to have that award, first of all," Carter said. "All the hard work I've put into the cage with my hitting coach John Mallee, especially after my first few months of the season, how much I've worked and how much I've struggled, it's nice to finally have success here.

"Stay in the cage every day, keep working hard, keep the same approach and let it go."

Carter said Mallee is "always on me every day about my swing. When I'm in the cage, taking BP, just making sure I'm doing it the right way, and then in the game, just swinging and not thinking about."

There is some wisdom in what you hear from Carter, who was acquired from the A's in February 2013. Consider this response, when asked what he would impart to younger players who might emulate his persistence to get results: "As far as hitting goes, realize that the pitcher is just as nervous as you out there. He has to throw a strike. It's tougher on him than it is on you."

Speaking of pitchers, Carter said the one he least likes to face is Justin Masterson, now with the Cardinals. Maybe it's a good thing that Masterson is now in the other league.

"I don't know why, but for some reason, every time I face him, I feel like he's throwing the ball behind me. And I still don't understand why," Carter said with a laugh. "Definitely wild, because you never know if it's going to come at you or be outside corner. It's just hard to pick up out of his hand."

Ask Carter who the best singer is in the clubhouse, and you will come to realize that Jose Altuve is actually a seven-tool player.

"I'm going to go with Altuve," Carter said. "He's always singing and dancing in there. He does everything, pretty much."

As a rebuilding project continues in Houston, Carter said "just finishing strong is the biggest thing. Winning more games, for us as a team, and for me personally, just keep doing what I've been doing, keep working in the cage every day and keep the same approach. ... Just relax, see the ball, try not to do too much with it."

Then, soon enough, Carter will be back home in Vegas. The Shelby will be waiting for him.

They are both souped-up power.

"I'm looking forward to going home and driving it around," Carter said.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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