TEMPE, Ariz. -- It's been an uneven spring for Richard Parker, but neither he nor the Angels are reaching for the panic button.One day after surrendering five runs over two-thirds of an inning to the Indians, Parker debuted a clean-shaven look and resolved to iron out the kinks over the
TEMPE, Ariz. -- It's been an uneven spring for Richard Parker, but neither he nor the Angels are reaching for the panic button.
One day after surrendering five runs over two-thirds of an inning to the Indians, Parker debuted a clean-shaven look and resolved to iron out the kinks over the final two weeks of Spring Training.
"I'm confident," Parker said Thursday. "It's hard not to be results-based, but it is frustrating when you don't go out there and do something that you can. I just want to get better every day. If there's one little thing that I did and I can figure out and put it all together within this next week, then hopefully I'll be ready to go."
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Parker, 32, entered camp as the Angels' best returning reliever after logging a 2.54 ERA and averaging 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings in 2017. This spring, he has given up runs in three of his five appearances, yielding a hyperinflated 18.69 ERA (nine runs over 4 1/3 innings).
"I'm trying to get all my pitches dialed in," Parker said. "I think first and foremost is getting my fastball down and away. I think all the rest of my pitches work off that. My release point hasn't been exactly what I wanted. I'm leaving some balls more middle, whereas normally I get them out on the black part of the plate, so just starting there and letting everything else kind of fall into place."
Parker, who ended last season as the Angels' closer, is in the mix to handle ninth-inning duties again in 2018, though Cam Bedrosian and veteran Jim Johnson could also get a chance to pitch in save opportunities. Bedrosian (four scoreless innings) and Johnson (two runs over six innings) have both enjoyed better results this spring, but manager Mike Scioscia said he believes Parker will recover his form soon.
"If he was making his pitches and getting hit, I think you'd be a little more concerned," Scioscia said. "He's trying to expand some things that he did. He's going to be fine. I think his arm is good. As we get closer to the season, I think you'll see him really focus on what he does best."
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.