The conversation took place about a dozen years ago, back when Jamey Carroll was stuck in the upper reaches of the Montreal Expos' farm system.

Mike Mordecai, the proven utility player blocking Carroll's path to the major leagues, did most of the talking.

"I told him, 'Jamey, there needs to be a little more thump in your bat,' " said Mordecai, now a minor league infield instructor for the Toronto Blue Jays. "I think Jamey was a better player, but I was a little older and posed a bigger threat offensively coming off the bench than Jamey did."

Mordecai, who had a seven-year head start on Carroll in terms of their professional careers, stressed the need for Carroll to punish pitchers' mistakes. Maybe his diminutive stature would keep him from hitting balls over the fence, but if Carroll could just drill some doubles into the gaps, he would get his chance.

"Jamey," Mordecai told the former 14th-round pick out of the University of Evansville, "guys in our position need the ability to hit for extra bases. Guys like you and me have to have that. Do that and you'll show them you belong."

Sure enough, after Carroll produced 27 extra-base hits in the first half of 2002, the Expos had seen enough. They traded Mordecai to the Marlins in July, opening the door for Carroll.