SCOTTSDALE — After undergoing surgery to remove a broken hamate bone in his right hand just before Spring Training, Colorado Rockies outfielder Gerardo Parra is nearing a return to the field for the first time in 2018.
The 30-year-old Parra is expected to compete for the one of the starting corner outfield positions, where the Rockies are thick with talent at the moment. Raimel Tapia, Mike Tauchman, David Dahl and Ian Desmond are the other leading candidates to hold down the corner outfield spots, bookending All-Star center fielder Charlie Blackmon.
In an interview inside the Rockies clubhouse during Thursday’s matinee between Colorado and the Cincinnati Reds, Parra told Rox Pile and other media members he was pain-free and nearing his return.
"“I feel great,” Parra said. “I got live BP (batting practice) yesterday (Wednesday) and hit off the machine today. I don’t feel pain.”"
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What are the next steps?
"“Play baseball,” Parra smiled. “I have another live BP tomorrow (Friday). After that, just start playing baseball.”"
In his second season with the Rockies in 2017, Parra had a bounceback campaign from a disappointing first year in Denver. He hit .309 with 10 homers and 71 RBI, including a torrid .571 in five June games before straining his right quadriceps in a June 6 home game against the Cleveland Indians. The injury kept him out of action until July 7.
While the hand surgery has shelved Parra this spring, he is thankful that the timing of the injury will still allow him to be ready for the start of the season.
"“I’m happy because I’ll be ready for Opening Day,” Parra said. “We have a lot of time so I can take my time. I can’t be frustrated because I know we have time before Opening Day. Just means I will work a little bit extra.”"
Parra has been keeping an eye on his teammates and noticing this year’s team is full of talent, not only at the corner outfield spots but up and down the lineup.
"“These guys play hard,” Parra said. “It’s fun to watch my teammates. We have a great team. Lot of young players who play hard. It’s not easy to make the team this year because we have a lot of talent.”"
Parra is in the final year of a three-year, $27.5 million contract with the Rockies. The club has a $12 million option to keep him for the 2019 season.