By Greg Dillard
The outstanding play of D-backs outfielder Gerardo Parra has turned some heads this Spring.
After arriving to camp in stellar shape, Parra is enjoying the best Spring Training of his young career. He has emerged as a regular in manager Kirk Gibson’s lineup, and produced when given the opportunity.
Parra is currently boasting a .350 batting average to go with his two homers and 10 RBI.
It was more of the same for Parra on Friday against the Mariners. In his first at-bat, Parra drilled a single into center field to plate the D-backs first run of the game. After being hit by a pitch in his second plate appearance, Parra raced around the bases to score on Willie Bloomquist’s single.
Gibson believes the impressive results are due to Parra’s hard work this Spring.
“He’s just playing well,” Gibson said. “All the hard work has paid off. He’s played a lot too, but he’s conditioned himself, strengthened himself. He’s worked a lot with Don Baylor trying to correct some things that he’s been doing the past few years.”
Gibson believes Parra is noticing the results of his new workout habits.
“I think he kind of feels the difference it’s making on him,” Gibson said. “His body is changing. He’s getting more cut, way stronger in his core, throwing a lot better, running a lot more.”
Since his arrival to the Major Leagues in 2009, Parra has seen regular playing time as the team’s fourth outfielder. Through his first two seasons in the big leagues, Parra is a career .277 hitter with 40 doubles.
However thanks to his impressive Spring, Parra could possibly receive the majority of innings and at-bats in left field this season.
While Parra could play center field to give Chris Young an occasional day off, Gibson believes his skills best suit him for the corner outfield spots.
“He’s really effective on the corners, either corner,” Gibson said. “His arm comes into play. He really runs the ball down well in the corners. He’s running better, though, this year.”
Allen flashes leather at first base
Since Gibson took over as D-backs manager, he has stressed the importance of adequate defense.
On Friday, the Mariners kept first baseman Brandon Allen busy fielding his position. Through the first three innings, Allen hauled in four batted balls, fielding them with ease to retire each Seattle hitter.
Allen even turned in a highlight reel catch by diving to his right to snare a Josh Bard line drive. For Allen, defense could prove to be a deciding factor for the young D-back as he continues to fight for playing time at first base.
“I feel comfortable,” Allen said. “Getting in there, and just making routine plays. I got a lot of action over there finally. Past couple starts, haven’t gotten too many balls, but it was good today.”
As Spring Training progress, the D-backs continue to focus on strong defense as a team. Allen said he’s just glad to contribute in the field.
“Collectively as a team, we’re pretty solid defensively, I believe,” Allen said. “So everybody’s got to do their part, and being able to help out is awesome.”
Gutierrez shuts down Mariners in seventh
In the top of the seventh and with the score knotted at 4-4, Juan Gutierrez toed the rubber against the Mariners in his seventh outing of the Spring. He made short order of the Seattle lineup by retiring the side in order.
The right-hander induced a ground out to first base off the bat of leadoff man Gabe Gross to start the inning. Mike Wilson was next and he didn’t fare much better as Gutierrez induced another ground out. One batter later, Gutierrez struck out Josh Bard to cap off the 1-2-3 frame.
Friday’s inning against the Mariners was Gutierrez’s fourth consecutive scoreless outing.
“I’m ready to go to the season,” Gutierrez said. “I fixed everything that I got to fix. So now I’m ready to go into the season.”