SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — If Jarrett Parker is feeling any pressure this spring, it’s not showing. Parker is as relaxed as ever off the field, displaying none of the tension that should come with a spring competition for an opening day job. On the field, he’s doing everything he needs to do to become the starting left fielder.
Parker had a double and long homer in his first two at-bats Wednesday and he nearly went for extra bases the third time up. In four Cactus League appearances, he’s 4-for-8 with two homers and three walks.
“He’s seeing the ball well and he’s using the whole field,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “That’s what you're hoping to see. These guys are competing for jobs and you see the way he’s playing. As much as anything, you see discipline at the plate. He’s laying off pretty good pitches. That’s one area he had to improve and he’s doing it.
“We want him to not try to hit homers, but let it go. I thought last year he backed off a little. He’s got to be himself and let it fly.”
Parker and Mac Williamson are locked in a spring-long battle for the left field job, with Parker entering as a slight favorite because he’s out of minor league options and Williamson is not. Parker's three at-bats Wednesday showed the power that so intrigues the front office. His second-inning double off Scott Kazmir was a screamer off the base of the right field wall. His homer, off a Madison Younginer fastball that was left up, traveled so far to right that Yasiel Puig simply his head and watched it fly.
In an odd way, the most important at-bat of Parker’s night might have been a flyout to left-center in the sixth. The swing came against against Patrick Schuster, a side-winding left-hander. In 50 big-league at-bats against lefties, Parker has just 10 hits. To make the leap from big leaguer to everyday starter, he’ll need to hit both sides.
“You like to think so,” Bochy said when asked if Parker can get there against lefties. “That’s our hope. (But) that's why we have right-handed hitters in here, too, because the splits are significant, including in the minors.”
Parker will get another chance to state his case on Thursday. He’s scheduled to hit cleanup for the split-squad team that will head to Tempe to play the Angels. As for Wednesday night’s action …
FIFTH STARTER BATTLE: Matt Cain cruised through the first 1 2/3 innings, including a strikeout of Puig on a good curveball, but the wheels came off at the end of his outing. The Dodgers got four straight two-out hits, scoring three runs in the second inning.
“I was a little sloppy with the focus and nailing down pitches where I wanted to put them,” Cain said. “Guys are going to take advantage of that. I’ve got to do a better job of, when I get two quick outs, stay with it. That’s frustrating. I know what I’m supposed to do.”
That’s the tough part of spring training for a veteran pitcher. These games are mostly meaningless, but Cain has a rookie right on his heels. Ty Blach followed with two shutout innings.
GAME RECAP: The Dodgers won 7-6, with the go-ahead runs coming when Joc Pederson took George Kontos deep … David Hernandez pitched a scoreless eighth … Fellow veteran Neil Ramirez followed with an impressive ninth … Aramis Garcia has an arm, man. He made a perfec throw to second to nab a retreating runner … Say what you will about Puig, but you’ve got to give him credit for embracing the role of villain in this rivalry. Puig was booed all game, and some of the loudest cheers of the night came when he was caught in a rundown between third and home. As he dropped down into the dugout, Puig held his helmet up to acknowledge the fans. The rivalry is more fun with him in it.
NOTABLE: Conor Gillaspie is pretty much a lock for the opening day roster and he should see plenty of time at third base this season. On Wednesday, Gillaspie spent much of his afternoon taking grounders at second. Insert *eyes emoji* here. What does it mean? Right now, nothing, but it could be meaningful in a month when the Giants cut down to 25. Some of the backup infield options aren't fully comfortable on the right side of the infield.
ICYMI: Jimmy Rollins was the latest interview on our Giants podcast. You can stream it here or download it on iTunes here. I'm going to do a Q&A of sorts at some point on the pod, so if you have a question that you'd like answered in long-ish form, send it over on Twitter.