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Parra enjoying first camp as non-roster invitee

Veteran hoping to bring experience to young Giants outfield corps
March 14, 2019

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The numbers point to a youthful Giants outfield in 2019. The five outfielders on the Giants’ 40-man roster have an average tenure of 58 Major League games, and none have played more than 120. Compare that pedigree to that of Gerardo Parra -- a 31-year-old non-roster invitee

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The numbers point to a youthful Giants outfield in 2019. The five outfielders on the Giants’ 40-man roster have an average tenure of 58 Major League games, and none have played more than 120.

Compare that pedigree to that of Gerardo Parra -- a 31-year-old non-roster invitee who has 1,347 games under his belt -- and it’s easy to see why the Giants are eager to add a veteran to their outfield ranks.

But to hear Parra tell it, he’s feeling younger than springtime in his first Cactus League season as a non-roster invitee.

“I feel great,” Parra said before heading to Salt River Fields for a game against the D-backs, the club that initially signed him as a 17-year-old free agent out of Venezuela. “I’m working hard every day. I come in early, work hard. I feel like I’m 16 years old, because I prep myself and prep my body. Like I say, ‘If you’re working hard, you’re good every time.’”

Parra’s work ethic is giving him a good chance to earn a spot on the Giants' Opening Day roster, bringing his pair of Gold Glove Awards and a career .278 batting average to San Francisco’s outfield. He’s had a strong spring, hitting .267 (8-for-30) with a pair of home runs through Thursday's 3-0 loss to the D-backs.

“Parra can hit,” manager Bruce Bochy said of the lefty batter. “[He’s] where he needs to be right now, two weeks away from the season starting.”

The Giants have made it no secret that they’re prepared to make a trade to bolster their outfield and perhaps add a veteran presence who swings from the right side to complement their lefty-laden lineup.

The other veteran outfielder in camp as a non-roster invitee is Cameron Maybin, who has struggled with a new swing and a new team. The 31-year-old right-handed batter is hitting .171 (6-for-35) with 11 strikeouts this spring.

Though his comfort and confidence levels are both high, Parra is taking nothing for granted this spring, using the same approach he takes every year, regardless of his contract or roster status.

“It’s the first time for me [as a non-roster invitee], but like I say every time I come here to Spring Training, I put in my mind like it’s my first time in the big leagues,” Parra said. “I do everything as hard as I can. I don’t think anything about if I’m a non-roster or on the roster. I just want to play baseball and be happy playing baseball, working hard, and that’s it.”

Parra has played five and a half seasons with the D-backs, parts of two seasons in Milwaukee, a year with the Orioles and three with the Rockies. He’s played in two World Baseball Classics, back-to-back Wild Card Games with the Rockies, and both the 2011 and '18 Division Series with the D-backs and Rockies, respectively. The prospect of playing October baseball by the Bay for a Hall of Fame-bound manager lured Parra to accept an invitation to Spring Training.

“Just to play with Bochy,” Parra said of his primary attraction to the club. “He’s a great manager. Great guy. This team has won a lot over the years, and that’s my goal too. Try to help us win this year.”

Having spent most of his career in the National League West, Parra is no stranger to Oracle Park. He has a career slash line at the Giants' home of .310/.350/.399 in 63 games, with the .310 batting average ranking third all-time among opposing hitters with at least 200 plate appearances (trailing only Paul Goldschmidt and Andre Ethier). His batting average and on-base percentage by the Bay both exceed his overall career numbers.

The familiarity with the landscape, as well as the camaraderie among old friends in the clubhouse, makes suiting up for the Giants feel like home for Parra.

“I feel like I’m family here and I’m happy for that,” Parra said. “I don’t think this team needs anything. It’s a great team. Just play hard every day and see what happens.”