Parnell takes the 8th

February, 8, 2011
Terry Collins expects D.J. Carrasco to hand the baseball to Bobby Parnell for the eighth inning. And the manager expects Parnell to hand the ball to Francisco Rodriguez for the ninth.

And Parnell says he’s ready for that assignment.

Bobby Parnell

Relief Pitcher
New York Mets


2010 Season Stats
41 0 1 8 33 2.83
“Absolutely,” Parnell said Tuesday at Mets camp, a week before pitchers and catchers officially report. “I’m here to do that. I’m here to be in the eighth inning and hand that ball to K-Rod. I’m excited for it. And to actually hear it come from Terry is a definite blessing, and I’m ready for it.”

Parnell set the franchise rookie record for appearances in 2009 with 68, but he did not make last season’s team out of spring training. He was not promoted until June 22.

“It is what it is,” Parnell said. “I didn’t want to be there, obviously. But it was also a learning experience to go back down there. So I felt like it was a little bit of pressure taken off to go down there and learn a couple of pitches and to work on my stuff. I took it and did what I had to do with it. I didn’t want to be there. I felt like I could have performed well in the major leagues.”

Parnell indicated his changeup and split-finger fastball made strides with Triple-A Buffalo.

“And just working on fastball command a little bit better,” he said. “Just to hone what I had. It wasn’t really developing anything new. It was learning if I could use this pitch in this situation, or locate it at a spot -- try to learn myself a little better.”

The former regime ideally would have had a little more foresight in Rodriguez’s absence after the closer struck his girlfriend’s father and given the closing opportunities to Parnell rather than Hisanori Takahashi. Takahashi’s performance as a closer with the Mets out of the race helped drive up his price, which eventually landed him with the Angels for two years, $8 million. And clearly Parnell is a potential long-term successor to K-Rod, whereas Takahashi -- despite his success in that role -- never fit that category.

“It would have been a good experience,” Parnell said. “I think it would have definitely helped going into this year. But looking back is 20/20. It wasn’t my decision then, and it worked out how it did. I just have to go in this year and do what I can.”

Parnell, you may recall, had eight starts in 2009 in the majors as the Mets auditioned him for a starting role. He struggled in that short spurt and the Mets abandoned considering him further for that role. Parnell, whose minor league career 91 starts in 93 appearances before last season with Buffalo, indicated he doesn’t have Aaron Heilman-type aspirations to return to starting anymore.

“It’s not something I think about every day,” Parnell said. “I like where I’m at. I like throwing every day.”

But if he started fresh somewhere and were asked his preference, his answer would be?

“I think I’d rather be late in the game -- eighth, ninth inning,” Parnell said. “Maybe later on, down the road, a few years from now [starting would be attractive]. But I’m really now I’m really enjoying being here.”

Parnell was shut down the final two weeks of the regular season last year against his wishes, when doctors discovered inflamed plica in his right elbow. The reliever said it’s a non-issue now.

“I was ready to throw the last week [of the season], but the doctors wouldn’t release me,” Parnell said. “I was good. I just needed a couple of days rest. I had a little inflammation in the back of the elbow. It feels great.”

Adam Rubin

ESPN Staff Writer
Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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