It’s been just over a month now since the Washington Nationals picked up Gerardo Parra off the scrap heap after he was released by the San Francisco Giants. But in a short time, he’s already become one of the more influential players both on and off the field.
“He’s a veteran guy that loves to play,” manager Dave Martinez said of Parra.
“He’s very smart, he’s a smart player and loves to play the game, and I’m glad that we were able to get him.”
Between the lines, Parra currently owns a .259/.310/.481 slash line with three home runs, 12 RBI, and three stolen bases with the Nationals. While that’s a great stat line in his time in D.C., his impact in the dugout might be even greater.
Maybe you heard, maybe you didn’t, but the Nationals hit four home runs in a row on Sunday afternoon. No big deal, they’re just the first team ever to achieve that feat twice.
Howie Kendrick, Trea Turner, Adam Eaton, and Anthony Rendon all went deep to help the Nats take the series finale against the San Diego Padres. But it was the newly dubbed DJ Parra who players couldn’t stop talking about after the game given his dugout dance antics.
I say this seriously, somehow Gerardo Parra’s name came up the most in the postgame clubhouse today. And he wasn’t one of the guys who hit four straight home runs. https://t.co/Z74ZVPhk3v— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) June 10, 2019
If you haven’t seen the celebrations from the players who hit the home runs with Parra waiting at the end, check out our own Will Kubzansky’s ranking of the celebrations, even if Kendrick was robbed of sole first place.
When you watch all of the celebrations, notice how it’s always Parra at the end of the dugout waiting for them to dance. The mood in the dugout just seems completely replenished since the Venezuelan arrived.
Heading into the season, the Nationals, much like last season, seemed to be lacking in veteran leadership.
The departure of Jayson Werth continued to leave a leadership void, but now, Parra seems to have stepped into that role for the Nats.
“He’s been tremendous,” Martinez said back in May. “He’s a veteran guy that’s played for a while, and he just loves to play the game.”
“But he’s very vocal in the clubhouse too, which I like, and on the bench, and with everybody, but especially with Latin players, he’s been really, really, good.”
General manager Mike Rizzo almost always makes a point of acquiring players that aren’t going to jeopardize the team’s clubhouse chemistry. He absolutely nailed this signing with Parra fitting right in with his teammates straight away.
At the time he was signed, Parra stepped into the lineup a few times off the bat with Juan Soto on the Injured List. However, now he’s been relegated to a fourth outfielder type role, ahead of Michael A. Taylor, who has struggled for the most part this season.
Regardless, Parra is happy to be contributing to the team by any means possible, a role that he’s regularly filled throughout his major league career.
“Whenever the manager needs me I’m here,” Parra said when he signed. “I’m ready for everything, even if he tries to put me in pitching or whatever, I’m ready for that.”
“Like I said, I want to help my team in whatever situation, outfield, pinch-hitting, whatever, I’m here for winning.”
“Well, he knows his role,” Martinez said back in May. “We’re going to get him in there against right-handed pitching, but I love him because he’s another left-handed bat off the bench.”
“And yet he can come in and play all three outfield positions, play first base for us, even pinch run for us if need be, but since we got him he’s been great.”
That role may now increase slightly after Martinez mentioned news of Matt Adams suffering a potential oblique strain in Monday’s game against the Chicago White Sox.
Parra has filled in admirably at first base with the Nationals, a position he had previously struggled at during his time with the Colorado Rockies. Now he could be due for more time at first to replace Adams as the left-side of the platoon there with Kendrick.
Regardless of his role, Parra knows all too well the situation that he’s coming into. The Nats have clearly underachieved so far in 2019, but as you would expect, the upbeat veteran still likes his new ballclub’s chances if they can finish the season strong.
“The big point right now is try to relax,” the veteran outfielder said. “Relax because we know that baseball is starting right now. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish the season.”
“We’ve got a great team. We’ve got a good opportunity. I know this division is strong, but that’s baseball, you play hard, play happy and see what happens.”
If the Nationals are going to make a miraculous run into the postseason picture, Parra is going to be a vital part of that success.
Parra has been a breath of a fresh air in the clubhouse and helped make the Nationals fun to watch after a disastrous start, becoming an instant fan favorite. Let the dancing continue!