PHILADELPHIA -- An hour before first pitch on Saturday night, Gerardo Parra was in relaxation mode, or as close as he could come to it. The rest of his teammates were donning black, sleeveless tops and the starters were thinking baseball, while Parra was in the dugout in T-shirt and shorts, on his phone.
Part of the reason Parra was out of the lineup against the Phillies was so he could slow down a bit. In six games, including five starts, since returning from a 46-game absence because of a troublesome left high ankle sprain, Parra has hit .192 and compiled a .192 on-base percentage, meaning no walks or other base-reaching accomplishments.
Parra and Rockies manager Walt Weiss each said Friday's 1-for-4 performance in a 10-6 loss to the Phillies was a start. He saw more pitches and didn't let his aggressiveness work against him. But Parra said being in a new situation is difficult.
"It's hard because it's my first time coming off the disabled list," Parra said. "I missed two months. But I feel really close. Maybe in a couple days, maybe tomorrow. … Whenever I get it back, I'm working toward that. I'm working every day.
"When I came back, I wanted to do my best for my team. But I need to see more pitches, see the ball in the zone and put it in play."
The Rockies signed Parra to a three-year, $27.5 million contract this winter, based on his improved batting average and on-base percentage in recent seasons in the National League. For example, he hit .328 with a .369 OBP with the Brewers last year before being traded to the Orioles, with whom he struggled (.237, .268 OBP).
This year, Parra overall is at .257 with a .266 OBP, and just four walks in 275 plate appearances. Parra contributed 27 extra-base hits before the injury, but the lengthy at-bats and on-base presence went missing.
But a pattern has emerged that could eventually work to the Rockies' favor. The trade to Baltimore marked his first time in the American League, and it has seemed change -- the theme of this year -- has been difficult.
"Maybe I had too much adrenaline to help this team win, to get on base," Parra said. "I know it's the same baseball. I can't forget that. And this is the first free-agent signing.
"I don't see the numbers. But yeah, we know. As players, we know everything. I have struggled this year. But forget it. Today is a new day and tomorrow is a new day. Just try to do the best every day."
Can Parra relax?
"That's a good question," he said. "That's what I'm going to try. It can be hard when you're standing at home plate and seeing situations. We're trying to make the playoffs. Maybe I'm putting pressure. But I'll relax, play happy and forget what happened yesterday."
Parra presents the Rockies an interesting situation.
Rookie David Dahl, lefty-hitting and a former top pick, has starred in his first two-plus Major League weeks. Lefty-hitting prospect Raimel Tapia hit .323 at Double-A Hartford and went 8-for-17 in his first four Triple-A Albuquerque games going into Saturday. Another lefty batter, Jordan Patterson, is hitting .319 at Albuquerque.
Will the left-handed-hitting Parra be deemed expendable this winter? Or will the Rockies handle him the way they did utility man Daniel Descalso, who signed a two-year deal last year and hit .205 but entered Saturday hitting .300?
Parra, looking to relax, certainly is staying away from those questions.
"I don't want to think about that; just win today, because we've got a chance to make a playoffs," he said. "Maybe people don't think we can make the playoffs, but I know everybody on this team and our fans think we can."