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Parris' pitching propels Blue Jays
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08/05/2002 6:28 pm ET 
Parris' pitching propels Blue Jays
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com

Steve Parris improved to 5-2 with Monday's win over Baltimore. (Aaron Harris/AP)
TORONTO -- All Steve Parris can do is pitch. He can't negotiate trades or choose his next destination. Still, every time he takes the mound, the postgame interviews are flooded with trade questions.

Even on Monday, after his best start of the season, Parris was besieged with questions about his future status. If he can clear waivers, Parris is a prime candidate to be moved before the Aug. 31 deadline, but that doesn't mean that he wants to talk about it once every five days.

Even so, Parris answered everything with an even tone and a good-natured attitude. The veteran understands the relentless barrage of questions, but that doesn't mean he has to like it.

"No offense guys, but I'm a little tired of it," Parris said after pitching eight innings in Toronto's 7-1 over the Orioles. "Everybody in my position would probably be on the trading block right now. And I understand that. It doesn't bother me one bit.

"Obviously, they're going younger. And I think that's the direction they need to go, to be honest with you," he said to another question. "Whether I'm part of it or not, I'm going to enjoy my time here and pitch as well as I can every time out."

Mission accomplished, as far as Monday is concerned. In a season-high eight innings, Parris allowed just six hits and one run. That ran his win streak to five straight decisions, an impressive statistic.

On this day, he was rarely even challenged. Baltimore's Melvin Mora accounted for his team's only run with a leadoff homer, the fourth of his Major League career. After that, the Orioles only had one other big-time scoring opportunity. In the fourth inning, they loaded the bases with two outs. In that tight spot, Parris coaxed a fly ball to right field, ending the inning and Baltimore's best threat.

"The story of the day, for me, is Steve Parris. He did an outstanding job," said Toronto manager Carlos Tosca. "He gave up a leadoff home run, then basically shut them down. His fastball had good finish to it. His breaking pitches were sharp -- he attacked."

He attacked during the game, then parried during the postgame press briefing. As if his pitching performance was an afterthought, the line of questioning stayed on one repetitive topic. Parris patiently served up several answers, although they were actually variations of the same theme.

"I'm really trying not to worry about it whatsoever. I don't know what teams would be interested," he said. "More than likely, there are a few out there. Every team is interested in starting pitching. We'll see what happens.

"It wouldn't bother me to stay the rest of the year," he continued. "It wouldn't bother me, mentally, to go to another team. It doesn't matter where I go. It doesn't matter who takes me. I'm going to take the ball every five days, go out there and run with it."

He also made a point to say, a few times, that he enjoys this team. He likes his teammates and he thinks the organization is heading in the right direction.

Last year, he said, the team may have been too comfortable. Now, with a new regime and a subsequent infusion of young talent, the Blue Jays are energized and determined.

"Everybody's a little more enthused about going out and winning," Parris said. "Orlando [Hudson's] here -- he wants to win a spot for next year. Chris Woodward is playing great right now. You can't ask for a better shortstop. Those guys are young and they're hungry."

They certainly are, but Parris doesn't feel out of place. At 34 years old, he's the veteran presence on this team. Only two players, Parris and Pete Walker, were born before the '70s. All of the other older players that were on the team in Spring Training -- Dan Plesac, Darrin Fletcher, Pedro Borbon -- have moved on.

Parris may be next, but he's not spending too much time thinking about it. The right-hander has a one-track mind, and it's set on just one thing: pitching to the best of his abilities, every time he takes the ball.

"My focus is always on my pitching. I don't focus, whatsoever, on what's going to happen tomorrow," he said. "It has no effect on my preparation for pitching."

Spencer Fordin, who covers the Blue Jays for MLB.com, can be reached at spencer.fordin@mlb.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.





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