Parra earning time at first base with Rox

Veteran outfielder swinging hot bat while adjusting to new defensive role

Parra earning time at first base with Rox

DENVER -- With the emergence of rookie David Dahl, it's become harder for veteran Gerardo Parra to get consistent playing time in the outfield. With the way he's swinging the bat, however, Parra is forcing himself into the lineup.

Parra led Colorado's offense in a 9-4 Rockies loss to the D-backs on Saturday night, with a 2-for-4 showing highlighted by a homer and a double.

Lately, Parra has been getting most of his playing time at first base, with All-Stars Carlos Gonzalez and Charlie Blackmon manning the other two outfield positions. With incumbent first baseman Mark Reynolds missing time due to a broken hamate bone and returning in a part-time role, it's been the easiest way for Parra to find the field.

And in seven starts at first base, which he had not played before this season, Parra is hitting 8-for-22 (.364).

"I feel better, but it's not because I'm playing first base," Parra said. "When you feel good at home plate, the hits come through. ... Even when I play outfield, I've got to go get hits."

Parra first played at first base on Aug. 24 in Milwaukee and has made strides defensively. However, the transition has been tough at times, especially considering his battle back from an ankle injury that kept him out for nearly two months and requires him to wrap the ankle in ice after games.

"It's not easy to play first base," said Parra, a two-time Gold Glove Award winner in the outfield. "But you try the best for your team, and I help the team and don't think too much. Just play like I want to play and make outs. Just try to feel comfortable."

Parra showed off his glove work Saturday with several picks on balls that bounced in front of him. But he does have the occasional hiccup, like when a foul popup fell between him and catcher Tom Murphy.

"He does a good job," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He looks very comfortable out there. I know he struggled with a popup that was kind of in no-man's land between him and 'Murph,' but with the lack of experience, those things are going to happen from time to time a bit, unique plays that you have to make over there at first base. He's shown an ability to pick throws out of the dirt and has handled ground balls that are coming his way. I think he's handled himself really well."

Although Parra is getting most of his at-bats against right-handers, Weiss hinted after the game that Parra would be the primary first baseman going forward, although he will not be limited to the position.

"He's played outfield for a long time, and he's had good years doing that," Weiss said. "I think he's just swinging the bat better right now."

Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.