Gerardo Parra, the Arizona Diamondback’s Gold Glove-winning outfielder, will be 26 years old in May with four big-league seasons under his belt. The Venezuela native has a rocket arm, is fleet of foot and owns a respectable .280 career batting average. He is approaching his prime years as a ball player. Yet, Gerardo still doesn’t have a regular job on a team that will likely be looking up at the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Gerardo Parra’s problem is the Diamondbacks have more outfielders than the Arizona desert has tumbleweeds. Last season, the Snakes had the services of newly acquired Jason Kubel to round out a group already consisting of Chris Young and Justin Upton. Parra was the odd man out, although he did manage to get 430 plate appearances when Kubel and Young struggled with injuries.
This off season, Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers dealt Young to the Oakland A’s in a three-way deal with the Miami Marlins to eventually land reliever Heath Bell and shortstop Cliff Pennington. Then, in a blockbuster move, Upton was shipped off to the Atlanta Braves for a boatload of players that included versatile Martin Prado and pitching prospect Randall Delgado.
Good news for Gerardo Parra, right?
Prior to last Christmas, Arizona signed free-agent outfielder Cody Ross, who figures to get plenty of starts against southpaw hurlers. And waiting in the wings is speedy rookie Adam Eaton, who is penciled in to play center field for Arizona and be their new leadoff hitter. Complicating matters is the fact Parra, Kubel, Eaton and reserves Eric Hinske and Tony Campana all swing from the left side of the plate.
“It’s tough, but I just have to wait for my turn,” says Gerardo about the outfield dilemma. “I have to be professional about it.”
Parra, it would seem, doesn’t get much respect in the salary department either. Kubel will make $7.5 million this season and Ross will earn $5 million, plus his $3 million signing bonus. Parra avoided arbitration to settle on $2.5 million for 2013. Obviously, that makes him low man on the totem pole, next to Eaton.
“Gerardo stays positive because he knows he could start on any team in the league,” states Arizona’s all-star catcher Miguel Montero, who will take $10 million to the bank this season. “He’s confident in his ability and feels like he’ll get his chance.”
Parra could mope and asked to be traded, but he remains patient and upbeat. His best friend and “big brother” is Montero, a fellow Venezuelan who helps keep things in perspective. Besides, with Prado and Delgado on board, along with the additions of Eric Chavez and Wil Nieves, the Diamondbacks are looking a bit more Hispanic these days, and Parra wants to be a part it.
“I love it here in Arizona,” Gerardo admits. “I love the fans and we have some good new players.
“When I got my Gold Glove last year and didn’t start, it wasn’t easy,” he continued. “But it’s a new season now and I’m very happy.”
My guess is that winning a regular gig would make Gerardo Parra even happier.