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Major Leagues: Mets’ Parnell remains patient

By Bret Strelow
bstrelow@salisburypost.com
NEW YORK ó Bobby Parnell exited the first-base dugout as soon as the national anthem ended, and he led a trio of New York Mets relief pitchers on a walk to the right-field bullpen.
Passing through the Shea Stadium infield, Parnell bumped fists with established stars David Wright and Carlos Delgado.
Parnell, an East Rowan alum, returned to the field once the Mets had secured the final out in their 10-8 victory against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday. Carlos Beltran hit a go-ahead home run in the sixth inning, and Delgado followed with his second tape-measure homer of the night.
Parnell settled for a distant yet desirable view as New York employed seven pitchers. Still an unknown commodity on a first-place club from the Big Apple, he is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to make his major league debut.
“This here is a long trip away from Salisbury, that’s for sure,” Parnell said as he stood in front of his locker in the Mets’ clubhouse. “I’m just waiting for my time, waiting for my situation to get in.”
Parnell waited some more Tuesday, one day after he celebrated his 24th birthday by traveling into Manhattan with several family members. The Mets were off Monday, and they are scheduled to complete their two-game set with Washington tonight.
New York promoted Parnell when rosters expanded Sept. 1, and he’s been with the team for seven games. The Mets are in the middle of a pennant race, and manager Jerry Manuel has used everyone but Parnell and recently acquired Al Reyes out of the bullpen this month.
The Tampa Bay Rays designated Reyes for assignment in early August, and the Mets called him up at the beginning of September. Parnell, who had 28 starts between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A New Orleans this year, made his only relief appearance in his final minor league outing.
“I knew coming in as a starter, then coming here as a reliever, that it was going to be a while,” Parnell said. “I just have to work my way into it.
“The last six games have been real key games, and it’s going to have to be a situation where I can go in there and pitch. We could be down a lot, which I don’t want to happen. Either that or be up by a few runs. You have to be ready every day.”
Parnell has warmed up during a game on two separate occasions, the first coming a week ago in Milwaukee. New York led 6-0 after one inning, allowed two runs in the eighth and won 9-2 against the Brewers.
The Mets played host to a doubleheader with division rival Philadelphia on Sunday, and the Phillies held a 6-0 lead late in the opener. Parnell said he was slated to pitch the ninth inning, but New York scored twice in the eighth. With the outcome still in doubt, veteran right-hander Duaner Sanchez entered the game in the top of the ninth.
“That was close; I was almost there,” Parnell said. “I just have to wait on that right situation where they have confidence to put me in.
“Coming in as a first-year guy and with the Mets having a rough season last year, they want to make sure we win. They don’t want me to go into a situation I’m unfamiliar with and struggle.”
The episode against Philadelphia was a false alarm, but Parnell gained a better understanding of how he’ll feel when he takes the mound for real.
Those pressure-free pitches from the home bullpen produced plenty of nervous energy.
“I’m going to feel that until I get in and see what it’s like,” Parnell said. “It’s nerve-wracking to be out there in the bullpen wondering when you’re going to be able to pitch, and you’ll always have those butterflies. If you don’t, you’re not doing something right. You’re not enjoying the game.”

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