Giants outfielder Jarrett Parker is finally back on the field for the first time in over two months. Parker, who fractured his right clavicle after crashing into the left field wall at AT&T Park on April 16, began his Triple-A rehab assignment with the Sacramento River Cats on Monday.
Batting third and playing right field, Parker went 0-for-1 while drawing two walks off left-handed pitcher Ryan Carpenter and scored one run in the River Cats’ 4-1 win over the Albuquerque Isotopes Tuesday at Raley Field.
“I’m completely happy with taking those pitches off a lefty. Just seeing pitches, that’s exactly what I want,” Parker said.
River Cats manager Dave Brundage sees this opportunity for Parker as simply getting back to the basics. After missing so much time on the field, Parker is essentially going through another round of preseason games.
“He’s going through spring training again here,” Brundage said. “For him to see pitches and show some patience and develop his strike zone again, he just needs to see some pitches. That’s what spring training’s all about.”
In his first two games back with the River Cats, Parker is 1-for-4 with an RBI double he hit to right-center his first game back. He barreled up a ball his first at-bat Tuesday, but it resulted in a two-hop groundout to second base.
Most importantly, his swing is progressing to where Parker wants it. The timing and strength will come along with more at-bats.
“It’s getting there,” Parker said on how his swing feels. “It’s a process, it’s gonna take a while. I definitely feel like I’m on track.”
When the Giants’ season started, Parker was slated as a platoon player in left field. Through his first two games in Sacramento, he has yet to line up in left. Parker roamed in center field his first game back before playing right field on Tuesday night. He says he feels comfortable in all three spots and just wants to be ready for whatever the club needs going forward.
And in that first game back, Parker was also tested at the wall. He was happy to get that out of the way early and never holds back, but is also playing it smart early on.
“First day I had a couple of plays at the wall and right now not being 100 percent — diving and what not, I’m just trying to work my way into it and get comfortable out there,” Parker said.
No matter the early results, the biggest key right now for Parker is playing time back out on the field. Parker played seven innings in both of his first two rehab games before the River Cats’ day off on Wednesday. Brundage believes that day off will certainly help and the plan is to take it day-by-day with Parker as he gets his legs back under him.
“I don’t think I’m 100 percent, but it’s part of the process and I just gotta keep grinding,” Parker said.
Parker only hit .143 in nine games for the Giants before going down. Meanwhile in San Francisco, former River Cats outfielder Austin Slater has taken complete advantage of his opportunity in left field. Through 15 games, Slater is batting .340 and knocked his second home run in the bigs Tuesday to help the Giants snap their seven-game skid.
How Slater performs is out of Parker’s hands. He can only focus on himself and though Brundage has only seen Parker in spring training and the start to this rehab assignment, the River Cats’ manager sees all the skills.
“He’s an exciting player,” Brundage said. “He’s got power, he can run, he can play all three outfield positions. There’s a lot to like about him.”
Stratton stars on the mound
Chris Stratton put together his best performance of the year on the hill in Tuesdays’s win. The 26-year-old right hander went 8+ innings with only one earned run, a solo shot to lead off the ninth, and struck out a season-high nine batters.
“That’s the best he’s been all year,” catcher Tim Federowicz said, who also had two of the River Cats’ five hits at the plate. “He did a hell of a job tonight.”
Before allowing that home run, Stratton retired 18 straight batters and did not allow a walk all game, pacing the way to the fastest River Cats game of the season at only 2 hours and 13 minutes.
“He had a good feel, he was throwing all four pitches for strikes and then finished batters when he needed to. He did a great job,” Federowicz said.
Stratton improved to 3-4 on the year with a 5.37 ERA over 11 games started. Earlier in the year, Stratton pitched 3.1 innings with the Giants. He went 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA in two appearances out of the bullpen before being sent back down to Sacramento.