Dahl, Parra battling for starting job in LF

22-year-old Dahl replaced injured Parra at position last season

Dahl, Parra battling for starting job in LF

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies outfielder David Dahl wants the triumphs of last year to give him confidence heading into this season. Gerardo Parra would like to forget 2016 as quickly as possible.

Each arrived at Spring Training 2017 trying to prove he is worthy of the Rockies' regular left-field job.

With the closer's identity more dependent on whether Greg Holland has fully recovered from October 2015 Tommy John surgery, and with the catcher position projected to be a shared duty between Tom Murphy and Tony Wolters, left field looms as the only true competition for a high-profile job in Rockies camp.

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"We'll let them play," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "Dahl proved last year that, in a smaller sample size, that he was productive. He brings tools to a Major League team. The guy can run, he's got some power, can hit for average, a very good defender. He's got a skill set that's exciting.

"Parra has proven at the big league level that he has been a productive player. Last year, he wasn't at the top of his game. But with the pride factor, I'm sure he wants to prove to everyone the player that he can be."

Parra's diving grab

With Parra battling a high ankle sprain that cost him 46 midseason games, Dahl shined in 63 games, batting .315 with seven home runs and 24 RBIs, including a Major League record-tying 17-game hit streak to begin his career. Parra finished at .253 with a .271 on-base percentage, below what was expected when he signed a three-year, $27.5 million contract last winter.

"There's so much time between now and the start of the regular season to play prognosticator," Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said. "We're trying to assemble the most talent we can possibly assemble. We're very fortunate to have four Major League outfielders that are obvious, and a number of other ones that are extremely talented and pushing to become Major League outfielders.

"That's a good thing for us. I'm not going to apologize for having, in our minds, a fully loaded, very talented outfield."

There is an argument for continuing the way last season ended, with Dahl as the starter, as Dahl, a first-round pick in 2012, showed signs of stardom that he can build upon with regular playing time. While struggling with the ankle injury at the end, Parra took up first base and could be a versatile reserve.

But while there is no indication the Rockies would balk at making Parra an expensive fourth outfielder and first baseman, the Rockies also have shown no signs of giving up on Parra. And he'll get to show his wares to the Rockies since Team Venezuela -- possibly scared off by his injury last year -- didn't add him to its roster for the World Baseball Classic.

Parra said he'll play first if he has to, but he wants to focus on competing in left.

Dahl's hit streak in 17 seconds

"You know what? I'm happy. I'm working hard," said Parra, who reported to camp at 206 pounds after playing at 216-218 pounds last year. "I have more opportunity to prepare myself for the season, and that's good. I feel great. That's the good part for me."

Dahl, who turns 23 on April 1, was ready when Parra was struggling. He began the year in center field -- his natural position -- at Double-A Hartford but asked manager Darin Everson to play him in the corners in case a spot opened up.

And Dahl's hitting in the Majors was especially eye-catching, considering his self-described jitters.

"I want to work on every part of my game, mainly pitch-selection stuff," said Dahl, who added that he'd like to be a basestealing threat. "I did make adjustments during the at-bat. I would chase the first or second pitch, and kind of calm down and see more pitches. I've just got to start that earlier."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.