Logic says Rockies outfielder Gerardo Parra’s opportunity for starts in left field expanded when David Dahl suffered a back injury that could keep him out for an extended period. But Parra said he believes he has overcome his biggest opponent — a rough 2016. “Last year is over. You have another year, another opportunity to change your work, change your life, and I think what’s more important is I feel 100 percent,” Parra said. “I want to put everything together.”
In Sunday’s 9-4 loss to the Brewers at Maryvale Baseball Park, Parra went 1-for-3 with a strikeout. The performance left his batting average at .357 and his on-base percentage at .471.
Last year, after signing for three years and $27.5 million, Parra hit .253 and walked just nine times in 102 games for a .271 OBP. His year was marred by a 46-game absence due to a left ankle injury. He finished the season as a part-time first baseman, while Dahl hit .315 with seven homers in 63 games.
Parra’s at-bats this spring have been calmer. In his first at-bat Sunday, Parra controlled the bat to single the opposite way off Brewers lefty Tommy Milone.
Dahl has been limited to four at-bats this spring, and he could be out for a few weeks. It means Parra has a chance to start and re-establish himself as an above-average player. But he insists competition with Dahl wasn’t driving his effort.
“I don’t want to put anything in my mind, like competition,” said Parra, who played an inning at first base Sunday. “You put in your mind what you need — hitting well, doing everything well. Then, do it.”
Manager Bud Black said Parra, 29, has handled the spring professionally.
“He’s not going to press, even if Dahl is healthy and everybody’s healthy,” Black said. “This guy had a good offseason. He trained great. Body-wise, he feels good. I see a focus in this guy to let everybody know that he’s a player, regardless of anybody else in or around our team.
“He wants to play well for him. He goes, ‘Hey, I’m a good player. I scuffled a little bit last year, but I’m locked in.'”
By Thomas Harding