Though nothing official has been said, Bobby Parnell will be the eighth-inning set-up reliever, even if he’s not convinced himself.
“Nobody has told me what I’ll be doing,’’ said Parnell before leaving for spring training. Even now, after a solid spring and no apparent competition, he’s not convinced.
“I still feel like I’m fighting for it,’’ he told reporters yesterday. “I would say that I have a better shot this year than I did last year. Last year, everything was still up in the air _ I was still fighting for a spot, I didn’t really know what was going on.’’
Two years ago, the Mets gave Parnell a handful of starts, but he fizzled and then manager Jerry Manuel gave up on him. No regrets, said Parnell, who said he the experience was beneficial.
“It was a good thing,’’ Parnell recently told me. “It gave me a chance to work on other pitches. I know you can’t get by one pitch, that being a 98 mph. fastball that sometimes touch triple digits.
The conventional thinking then was Parnell needed a change-up, but he’s all but shelved that and is throwing a slider.
“I throw it more than fastballs right now, because I want to be able to feel comfortable with it,’’ Parnell said yesterday. “Working on that more than working on that third pitch, I think it’s helped me a lot. Because I’m more crisp with my first two pitches instead of having a good fastball and two average pitches.’’
Although Parnell is pleased with his progress, he admits he still needs to feel comfortable throwing in traditional fastball situations when he needs a strikeout.
Parnell sees himself as a reliever who no longer has starting stars in his eyes. He’s better for it because he’s concentrating on one job, not something down the road.
Assuming –and it is a logical conclusion – Parnell will get that opportunity next spring because the Mets aren’t expected to pick of Francisco Rodriguez’s option, which kicks in at $17.5 million should he complete 55 games, and that doesn’t solely include saves.
I thought the Mets made a mistake last season in going with Hisanori Takahashi in save situations when Rodriguez went down because Parnell clearly represents the future.