02/22/12 7:09 PM EST
Parra ready to help D-backs in any capacity
Kubel addition means outfielder could be in bench role
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
The D-backs manager talked with outfielder Gerardo Parra for the first time since the Jason Kubel signing that essentially cost Parra the starting left-field job.
"He's a very good player, and he's very important to our team," Gibson said of Parra. "He's going to come out here and work hard, he's going to have a great attitude, just like he always does. He isn't going to be bothered by -- I knew that would be the case. When it's all said and done, Parra's going to be a huge part of this team. Just like Kubel, just like Chris Young, just like Justin Upton, just like all those guys."
Parra had a breakout year in 2011, as he hit .292 with eight homers and 46 RBIs while playing in 141 games.
Defensively, he was even better in winning the National League Gold Glove Award.
So, with Parra coming off a good year at the plate and a great year in the field, it was a surprise to many when the D-backs inked Kubel.
Parra, who was in his native Venezuela at the time of the signing, spoke about it for the first time Wednesday.
"I feel good because Kubel is a great player," Parra said of his reaction to the news. "I know he's good. I'm happy because the team looks strong. The goal is to get to the World Series. I'm ready for anything."
Was he surprised by the signing?
"No, not in baseball," Parra said. "You have to stay ready for anything. You never know when the baseball gods surprise you. One day you're here and another day you're with another team. I'm happy with this team. I think this team looks strong, and that's the point."
Did he take it as a slight?
"I know Kubel," Parra said. "I saw him when he played with Minnesota. He's a great player, a great hitter. I don't take it personally. That's baseball. Last year, you play every day. This year, maybe not. My thing is that I'm going to be 100 percent ready for whenever Gibby needs me. I'll be ready to pinch-hit or to play every day."
Last year, Parra reported to Spring Training not even sure if he would make the team, much less start. The club had signed free agent Xavier Nady, who figured to be the starter in left.
Parra, though, showed up stronger and in better shape than 2010, and played well enough to earn the starting job.
"You know who Parra is," Gibson said to reporters. "He's going to have the same attitude. You know last year he came here and he wasn't a starter either. He earned his time. When it comes down to it, we're going to try and win ballgames. You know last year he came here and he wasn't a starter either. He earned his time. When it comes down to it, we're going to try and win ballgames. So he starts out as the fourth outfielder just like he did last year, but he's arguably the best left fielder in the game."
To increase his chances of seeing more time, Gibson has asked Parra to work on his defense in center field. While he is regarded as outstanding in left and right, he is not as good in center. Parra may be able to get some playing time in center if the team decides to rest Young more or if Young were to get hurt.
"I'm ready for anything," Parra said. "I don't care. I'll be ready to play whatever position. I'll have to be ready because I don't know what position they'll want me to play. I didn't have a position last year in the upcoming season and I played more [than expected]. This year's the team. I'll be ready for anything. Maybe I'll play every day, maybe I won't."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.