Trea Turner talked earlier this week about the impact Gerardo Parra has had since returning to the Nationals’ major league roster earlier this month, for the first time since 2019. Parra is one of several players still around from Washington’s World Series championship in ‘19, and he is talked about often as a glue guy, and good clubhouse presence, and Turner said he’s already had an effect on things since returning.
“Just having him in the clubhouse and for morale and whatnot I think is always good,” Turner told reporters. “We got a pretty good group here. Each and every year we’ve had — I say it all the time that [GM Mike Rizzo] and the front office are great at signing guys and signing good people, so we have a lot of fun, we try to enjoy it, but he’s a special character and he’s had some good at bats already for us. The double the other day and the walk tonight, so he’s going to be a good veteran presence, and a fun teammate to be with.”
Manager Davey Martinez talked on Friday afternoon, before the second game of four with the Marlins in Miami this weekend, about Parra’s personality in the clubhouse now, after a few stints on their taxi squad in which he wasn’t his usual ebullient self.
“He’s very much chirpy,” Martinez explained. “He’s playing music, hitting that music loud before games, after games, he’s having conversations with players, and you see him out there just having fun and being Parra.
“He talks a lot during the games, gets the guys riled up, so it’s been a lot of fun since he’s been here, and this is something that I talked about with him being here on a regular basis, he becomes who he is. It’s tough when you know you’re here only for a week, and you got to go back, so he was kind of trying to stay out of the way, but Parra is Parra and when he’s around he cheers everybody up.
“He’s always smiling, he’s always goofing around, and keeping everybody on their toes, so it’s good to have him back.”
For the Nationals’ skipper, however, who has been in contact with Parra over the last two years, even when he wasn’t part of the organization for a while, it didn’t really feel like the outfielder ever left. Even if Parra spends a little too much time in the manager’s office now that he’s back, Martinez said he was glad to have him on the roster.
“I talked to Parra quite a bit even when he wasn’t here. I’ll text him. He’ll call me. So in my eyes, he’s never really gone,” Martinez said. “He’s always the same, the good and bad.
“The bad is he’ll come in my office when I don’t need him in my office sometimes, but the good thing is that he’s coming in my office, and we’re having a good time with it.”
On the field, Parra, who can play all three outfield spots, and has played some first base, with a game each at second and third, provides his manager with all sorts of options.
He was taking grounders at first base while Josh Bell was out of the lineup for the first two games in Miami, in case he was needed, and Martinez said he’s the type of versatile piece you don’t see as much around the majors these days.
.@88_gparra is back in the nation's capital and @Nationals teammate @kschwarb12 is loving it! @KMillar15 | @StephenNelson pic.twitter.com/7pOtq9dCZg— Intentional Talk (@IntentionalTalk) June 26, 2021
“I appreciate guys like that, guys that bring that energy, guys that play, can play all over,” the former big league outfielder said.
“Different positions, hit all over in the lineup, and do his job every day, and come in and pump his teammates up.
“For me that’s a commodity when you gave a guy like that on your team, and he does it well as we all know.
“He’s a guy that no matter what I ask him to do he goes out and tries to do the best at it. So it’s great to have him here and good to have him on the team.”
Being able to do a lot, and being able to do things well, is of course a big distinction, and Parra’s proven he can contribute when called upon in whatever role he’s needed in.
“He takes pride in everything he does, he really does,” Martinez said. “He works diligently on all three outfield positions. The other day he took a bunch of ground balls at first base, he’s constantly in the cage, trying to get better, he’s in there preparing during games for that one pinch hit that he gets. So when you see a guy like that, a veteran like that that prepares himself well, that can help the young guys when he’s sitting there and talking about the game, it’s awesome to have.”
And he’s also not afraid to speak up in the clubhouse, which, as usual in D.C., has a mix of young players and veterans working together to turn their season around, and Parra is the perfect mentor too, when he’s needed in that role.
“When he wants to say something to you, believe me, he’s going to say it,” Martinez said.
“Nothing is going to hold him back. But he’s very good with [younger players].
“It’s all about instruction with them and getting them to kind open up a little bit, and knowing that it comes from a teammate helps a lot with players.”
Josh Bell, in his first season in D.C. following a trade from Pittsburgh, finally got to share in the Gerardo Parra experience earlier this month, and he said as much as he’d heard about the type of player Parra is, he wasn’t prepared for the reality.
“I heard stories in spring, everyone is like, ‘This guy is something else, the energy that he brings is second to none,’” Bell said, “... and I thought in the past I’ve played with guys like him, and I was wrong. He’s definitely a special, special character, and he’s definitely fun to play with, so hoping for more success from him and more wins.”