From the Pages of Vine Line: Q&A with RHP Blake Parker

PARKER

(Photo by Stephen Green)

Injuries kept Blake Parker out of action for much last season, so the 28-year-old reliever has been making the most of his opportunity in 2013. Vine Line caught up with right-hander to discuss his favorite places to play, advice he’s received from teammates and rebounding from trips to the disabled list. This and much more can be found in the September issue of Vine Line.

WINDING ROAD  For each player, the road to the big leagues varies. Everyone has his own way of getting here, and I think each individual story is just as unique as the next. But coming from a catcher’s background and not really pitching in college, I can appreciate the fact that it’s hard to get here. It’s hard to hit. It’s hard to pitch. To be able to play with a bunch of these guys and call yourself a big leaguer is pretty rewarding.

COMEBACK TRAIL  [The injury last year] was very frustrating. It was heartbreaking. Going six or seven years of my career and never getting hurt, and finally getting called up and then getting hurt, it was devastating. But to be able to make it back and recover from that is even better.

PUMP IT UP  Coming into my first major league appearance, all I ever heard was how nerve-racking it was. I was more anxious than anything. I just wanted to get out there and pitch. I really thrive off the crowd and off the energy. That really fires me up, so it’s always fun to come into 30,000 or 40,000 screaming fans.

CLOSING TIME  It’s always a little bit tougher at the end, especially when the game is on the line. I talk to Kevin Gregg a lot about closing and situational-type stuff. He’s been doing it for so long that he knows what he’s talking about. I just try to pick guys’ brains and learn as much as I can as a rookie. I’d like to stay around a while.

CREATURE OF HABIT  As far as superstitions go, my daily routine needs to be the same. If I don’t get myself ready the same way every day, or if I do something out of order, I might feel a little bit off. I do like to switch up my music, depending on my mood. Today I’ve got some old-school rap, hip-hop going. Some Bone Thugs, Tupac.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS  Stadium-wise, I think PNC Park in Pittsburgh is really neat. Atmosphere-wise, Oakland is my favorite place to play, because I feel like I’m back in high school football again and it’s Friday night. They have the drums and everything going in the outfield. It’s just got that feel to it. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I’m back home playing football.

FAN FAVORITE  I recently got into Twitter. It’s a little bit of a boredom cure. I like to interact with people. It’s always fun. As a kid, you dream of having fans, and you love looking up to and having role models. I think it’s a great way to reach out, but I haven’t gotten too deep into it yet.

—Gary Cohen

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