Nationals

Nationals

WASHINGTON -- Gerardo Parra zoomed down a concrete hall on an electric scooter Wednesday night. He wore orange-tinted glasses, a backpack and giddiness.

The Nationals’ spirit animal was heading to his temporary home near the ballpark, which has been his residence for about two months. He has a sense for timing since the signing and rolled right into the elevator as it opened Wednesday.

Thursday, he hit second -- a batting order position too lofty for his prior results -- doubling in the fifth and again in the sixth. The latter scored two runs to bump the Nationals in front 5-2 during yet another victory. Thursday’s win pushed Washington four games over .500 for the first time since Aug. 7, 2018. It is 26-10 in the last 36 games.

Parra survived Ryan Zimmerman’s return to the roster because of spunk and reliability. Michael A. Taylor was sent to Double-A Harrisburg in order to keep Parra around despite a .237 average. Parra is happy to just be on a team. There’s never a period where he wonders why he is not playing more. Never a time when he grumbles. 

And, so, Parra represents a modern conundrum: quantifiably, he is a mediocre, or worse, hitter at this point of his career. His defense remains above average despite his age. But, the anchor of his overall value? There’s no math to that. 

“He’s been incredible,” Davey Martinez said. “He brings it every day. He’s full of energy. Has fun.”

Parra pops on music during dreary Sunday mornings in the clubhouse. Syncing devices to get to the song he wants is occasionally a chore. But, something with a Latin flare eventually pulses out, even if few are present to hear it.

 

He also started the dugout dancing line. Since, Matt Adams has grabbed Parra for a dosey doe and Kurt Suzuki has performed The Floss. Las Vegas would not post prop bet odds on those events occurring since they would be unfathomable two months ago.

Parra is floating through this transition in his career with a smile and focus. His OPS-plus has risen above 100 three times in his 11 big-league years. He’s won two Gold Gloves. In 2013, Parra was a 5.7 WAR player.

Here, he’s in that space where careers are in the midst of a pivot. San Francisco released him. Washington needs him in the field on occasion. Parra is 32 years old. The rest of his time in the major leagues, however long it lasts, will be dedicated to this type of role. Even for him, “I’m happy every day,” he said, it’s an adjustment.

“It's not easy,” Parra said. “It's not easy. But like I said, I never putting nothing negative. I put in this positive when the manager gives me opportunity to play. Okay cheering, running, everything. I'm ready for that, man.”

How does he relate his value if it can’t be framed on Fangraphs?

“Believe it,” Parra said. “Just believe it. Be happy. When you believe in yourself, something happens. I think something happens everyday.”

He’s pushed this idea to be true since joining the Nationals. The math will push back as the season continues. In the end, Washington will end up pleased with the outcome. It needed a jolt during the doldrums. Parra showed up. He hit a grand slam in Los Angeles, pumped the music in the clubhouse and orchestrated the conga line in the dugout, proving, sometimes, value is hard to define.

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