Major Leagues: Mets call up former East Rowan Mustang Parnell
By Mike London
Bobby Parnell was one of the September call-ups by the New York Mets when rosters were expanded on Monday.
Local fans who remember Parnell as a tall, skinny, rocket-armed third baseman at East Rowan or as the first baseman and No. 8 hitter on Rowan County’s 2002 state-championship American Legion team, likely wouldn’t recognize him now.
A right-handed pitcher who has hit 98 on radar guns this year, Parnell is now listed at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds.
Parnell had been playing for Triple-A New Orleans. The Zephyrs ended their season Friday at home, and Parnell worked in relief for the first time all season in the finale.
That will be his role with the Mets down the stretch. He joined the team in Milwaukee and was in the bullpen Monday as Johan Santana and Ben Sheets squared off in a game the Mets won 4-2.
“It’s exciting and I’m still just a little shellshocked right now,” said Parnell, the first Rowan native to reach the big leagues since South Rowan graduate Brian Smith pitched in three games for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2000. “They called me in on Friday and told me I was one of the guys who was being called up. Then they flew us out in plenty of time before the hurricane (Gustav) got there.”
And Parnell’s first call home to tell everyone the good news?
“My mom (Tonya) was first,” Parnell said. “She was working, driving to the bank when I reached her. She said she wanted to jump up and down, but she couldn’t.”
In addition to Parnell, the Mets recalled catcher Gustavo Molina, infielders Argenis Reyes and Ramon Martinez and pitchers Carlos Muniz, Jonathan Niese, Ricardo Rincon and Brandon Knight.
New York also recalled pitcher Al Reyes from Double-A Binghamton.
Parnell wasn’t on the 40-man roster, and adding all the new faces required paperwork moves. Outfielder Trot Nixon and pitchers Matt Wise, Jason Vargas and Orlando Hernandez were shifted from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL and pitchers Willie Collazo and Ruddy Lugo were designated for assignment.
Parnell was a ninth-round draft pick out of Charleston Southern in 2005. He made minor-league stops at Hagerstown, St. Lucie and Binghamton. He was an Eastern League All-Star at Double-A Binghamton this summer before being promoted to New Orleans.
Parnell owns a 12-8 record between Binghamton and New Orleans this season.
The Mets play the Brewers in Milwaukee again tonight.
A story on Parnell will appear in Wednesday’s edition.
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