The 2016 election was a no-brainer for the Colorado Rockies players. There was only ever one candidate in the running. “Parra for President” t-shirts were ubiquitous in the clubhouse like it was the only available clothing for the players. This level of support never wavered even after Gerardo Parra struggled to come back after he went down with a sprained ankle after a collision with Trevor Story.
With the full backing of the Rockies brotherhood, Parra literally grabbed the 2017 season by the horns when he hoped on top of a giant longhorn in spring training. His determination to bring his lightning energy from the clubhouse to bounce back on the diamond was under way.
This season Parra has been playing better hitting .520/.571/.800 in his last 10 games before he went down with with a quadricep strain after attempting to steal on June 6 against the Indians.
On Father’s Day, for the first time since his injury, Parra starts sprinting outside. He has done work on the treadmill and the pool to start recovery. But this is different. He lines up on the foul line in shallow right field just behind first base. While this is just an early step, Parra seems relieved. It is a positive step that brings a smile.
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He extends it to the fans in the crowd waiting to get their memorabilia signed. But those sprints and that smile aren’t the most impressive things on display this morning. Parra is eager to get back to baseball any way he can and when he sees a ball near by he takes advantage.
He starts interacting with fans. But the fans he chooses aren’t anywhere near him. He picks up a ball from right behind first base and throws it past the right-field foul pole past all the seats to the concourse heading toward the Blue Moon tap room. One thing is for certain, Parra’s arm is at 100 percent.
"“I’m just bringing work out there playing with the fans,” Parra said. “I feel good today. Just brining the work outside and I’m feeling happy. I’m running a sprint like 45 to 50 percent. I feel that’s good for me right now.”"
Manager Bud Black often knows exactly when Parra is coming down the hall of the clubhouse. How could you miss him when he’s riding down the hall ringing the bell on his scooter?
"“[He contributes] the same as when he is active,” Black said. “He comes in with energy. He is great in the club house. He keeps guys loose. He keeps guys positive. He talks about winning he talks about the team. He is good in game in the dugout and encouragement. Solid contributor even while injured. [He is a character] in a great way. He puts a smile on my face.”"
When the Rockies were down 5-3 headed into the bottom of the ninth against the Giants on Father’s Day, Parra was as vocal as any player in the dugout with encouragement. Before Nolan Arenado went up to the plate with the opportunity to hit for the cycle, Parra told him if he hits a single, he should just run home anyway. Arenado laughed and walked off a hero. The outfielder knows how to make this clubhouse loose and confident.
"“You know, I don’t want to talk too much about last year. I don’t think I’m just [on the] DL. I’m just looking to the end of the road and the clubhouse,” Parra said. “Just say play together with the guys and want to do it like we do it and play hard over there. You know, take everything positive and don’t think back because we’re playing in Colorado. You know, the Colorado Rockies are the best. I’m happy to be here.”"
Carlos Gonzalez sure is happy that one of his best friends is here too. Nothing about this season is what Gonzalez is accustomed to. Parra is a supporting teammate in the face of adversity.
"“When [Parra] came back he wasn’t at 100 percent so he went through adversity. Went back home this offseason and worked really hard and then he was off to a good start. It’s nice to see a guy bounce back after a down year. It’s too bad that he’s on the DL. He was having a good time he enjoyed the game after missing a lot of time last year,” Gonzalez said."
Parra’s experience gave Gonzalez some perspective on his own game.
"“Just stay in the game,” he said. “Going bad or going good it’s just part of the game. I think the one thing we can control is work hard. We work hard we show up every day to prepare ourself to do the best we can on the field. If it doesn’t work then there’s nothing else you can do. Just keep the same attitude and show up the next and try to start over. Sometimes you have to go through a little adversity to really discover all the things you can do on the field.”"
A way that Parra has been responding to adversity is helping the younger players develop. Ramiel Tapia has taken every opportunity to listen to Parra in the longest major league stint of his young career.
"“He’s a veteran player and he has been in the big leagues awhile now so he’s been able to help me a lot. Help me with the pitches that the pitchers throw and kind of letting me know what to expect. Helping me with a lot of different things. A lot of simple things. But just helping me out,” Tapia said through an interpreter."
But Parra does not see any distinction between the young players and the veterans on this team.
"“We don’t have any young players here,” Parra said. “I think everyone stays on the same level. You know everybody prepare the same high level. We just play best like we’re playing. Playing hard. And a big point we stay as a family.”"
There is always uncertainty after an injury and Parra is hoping to bounce back from this DL stint faster than he did last year. One thing that is certain is that this presidential candidate will always have the full support of his family.