Don't get Carter

It's a long way between the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League and the New York Mets of the National League.

Just ask Gary Carter, who probably added a few country miles between himself and the bigs when the former catcher publicly lobbied for the Mets' managing job last year while Willie Randolph was on the hot seat.

Carter, a first-year manager for the independent Ducks, admits now that his outspokenness was a mistake. "If it was viewed as politically incorrect what I said about my interest, I would say yes, it was a mistake," Carter said to the New York Post. "I wasn't trying to step on anyone's toes or undermine anyone. My intentions were sincere, certainly not malicious by any means. I've learned from it. It won't happen again. I'll tell you that."

Carter said he still sends Christmas cards to current Mets skipper Jerry Manuel, a former teammate. Last year's Hallmark read: "Wishing you a Merry Christmas, and another choking year."

Samardzija glad to be back in bigs

Jeff Samardzija was called up from triple-A Iowa yesterday after Cubs reliever Luis Vizcaino was designated for assignment, according to MLB.com. Hopefully, for Vizcaino's sake, manager Lou Piniella wasn't the one to let the pitcher know he was being demoted.

"We needed a roster spot, and somebody in the bullpen had to go, and unfortunately for Luis, it was him," Piniella said oh-so gracefully.

Samardzija, the former Notre Dame wide receiver, is back in the majors after failing short of snagging a spot in the rotation during spring training. "This is where you want to be," Samardzija said. "I'm excited, and hopefully, the weather will start to turn around and stay nice." Uh, it's Chicago.

The 24-year-old made his Cubs debut last July and was used strictly in relief. In 26 games, he compiled a 2.28 ERA. He's starting now and is hoping his days in Des Moines are over.

"As far as I'm concerned, you can 'X' it off the map," said Samardzija, apparently unaware that 200,000 people still live in the Iowa capital. "It's a great town, I don't want to put it down, but if you have to put Des Moines and Chicago on a scale, I think it tips heavily to one side."

Having been to both towns, High & Inside cannot argue with the kid.

Around the horn

More Cubs news: Piniella does not plan on rushing back Milton Bradley, who's nursing a groin injury. "When he's 100 percent, I'll put him out there," Piniella said, according to the Associated Press. . . . Online all-star balloting started yesterday. So get on the Internet and stuff the ballot box for your favorite unworthy hometown player.

Noteworthy

Frank Robinson was appointed special assistant to the commissioner, a return to baseball's front office for the Hall of Famer who has spent more than a half-century in baseball. The 73-year-old Robinson, the only player to win MVP awards in both leagues, served as baseball's vice president for on-field operations from 2000-02.

Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745