Gerardo Parra doesn't hold any ill will toward the San Francisco Giants. Yes, they cut him May 3, sending him into the blank space unemployed 30-something players endure in baseball. Parra didn't know what was next. He did know hitting .198 for a Giants team in a rebuild was not sufficient.
So, he's thankful for them. Talk to Parra about his turnaround in Washington, his cultural influence and all-around giddiness since joining the Nationals, and he'll mention San Francisco first, saying he wants to thank the organization. It's not a facetious or off-handed comment. He was a free agent, they gave him a chance, it didn't work. Both moved on.
Wednesday, Parra hit an opposite-field three-run homer against San Francisco during the Nationals' 4-1 win. He has homered six times in 119 at-bats since joining Washington. He's basically on a 30-homer pace across a whole season despite his spot duty.
Reactions to his homer ranged from "of course" to "revenge." The former is apt. Parra's spirited touch seems to have no limits, and the three-run homer against his former team to help complete a needed sweep for his current one slides smoothly into the narrative. Vengeance was not a factor.
The home run also added to Parra's stunning ability with runners in scoring position since showing up in Washington. The home run increases his average to .412 in such situations.
Parra played six different positions for the Nationals in the last five days: first base, second base, third base, left field, center field and (gasp) pitcher. He's interesting at first base because he brings a plus-outfield arm to a spot usually reserved for a fielder more of the noodle-arm variety. There's also a dash of bravado when he plays over there -- recall when he threw across the diamond for a tag play at third base earlier this season.
Also, recall the Nationals opted to keep Parra on the 25-man roster instead of Michael A. Taylor. The decision, at the time, was questionable in this sense: if Washington was going to retain one person for part-time duty, primarily defensive and running, why wouldn't it keep Taylor, one of the best defenders and fastest guys in the league? Looking back, Taylor's usage -- or lack thereof -- in those situations made keeping him moot. He was an emergency plan when no alarms were sounding.
So, he went to Double-A Harrisburg, where he has a .729 OPS in 33 games while leading off. Taylor continues to have strikeout problems -- 47 in just 144 plate appearances -- and his organizational future is in jeopardy. He's arbitration-eligible again next year. He will also be 29 years old by the start of next season.
Parra isn't concerned about such situations. He's busy with fun and crucial swings. Across the first two series of this road trip, his versatility peaked. In the final game against his former team, his damage was maximized. Both plug easily into his hard-to-believe story.
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