Like Mike Pelfrey, Bobby Parnell is downright big. He is rather soft-spoken and to the point, but he is eager to begin the 2011 campaign and elevate his game to the next level.
At Citi Field Kids Day, Parnell answered some questions for the children about what it means to be a big leaguer and when did he discover that he wanted to play professional baseball. Parnell told the kids to follow their dreams and good things will happen.
In a bullpen that seems to add a new piece every day, Parnell appears to be a staple for one of the spots. However, he said he had not talked with the team’s brass about a specific role.
“I’d like to be later in the game: seventh, eighth, ninth inning,” said Parnell. “I just want to be able to help the team out anyway I can and be prepared whenever they call my name.”
Interestingly, Parnell mentioned “ninth inning.” As of now at least, Parnell will probably be the set-up man to K-Rod. But he did say that he would be ready to slide into the closer’s role if need be.
“That’s where I want to be,” said Parnell. “I know K-Rod has the role, and he’s well-deserving of it. If he’s healthy, then by all means I’ll do everything I can to help him get as many saves as the team can get him. If he comes in hurt, I would definitely like to help the team in that role until he gets healthy.”
He said last year he felt very good about his fastball and tried to attack hitters rather than be too picky. When you have 100 mph heat, that always seems like a good plan.
I told Parnell that everyone who watches him can see that he has great stuff. I followed this up by asking what will be the key to becoming even more dominant late in the game. He said consistency.
“That’s always a big thing with me in being consistent with my delivery and my pitches and staying in the strike zone and attacking the hitters,” said Parnell. “If all of that falls into place, I’ll be good to go for the rest of the season.”
Parnell mentioned that he, as well as the team, views himself solely as a reliever. He admits that the experience as a starting pitcher has made him a better reliever.
“We’ve got great starters like [Dillon] Gee coming up,” said Parnell. “I think my role will be as a reliever and to help the team in that position.”
He said he is familiar with Terry Collins from his time in the minors and is excited about the energy Collins brings. Parnell is also happy that he’ll be able to work with Dan Warthen again. Warthen knows Parnell’s delivery well and will help him succeed.
Finally, I asked Parnell how he thought the bullpen was shaping up.
“I think it’s going to be a good combination,” said Parnell. “We’ve got a lot of guys that can pitch and a lot of good arms down there. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be a good year.”
I’m glad Parnell is chomping at the bit to start this season. He will be an important cog in our bullpen, especially if K-Rod flounders.