Parker offers glimpse of promising future
Right-hander allows one run over 6 1/3 innings in A's debut
OAKLAND -- The kid is all right.
Jarrod Parker, that is. Oakland's top pitching prospect, beckoned from Triple-A on Wednesday for a start against the White Sox, entered just his second big league game and first with his new employer simply wanting to throw strikes, something that proved more of a chore than a habit for him during the spring.
Plenty were tallied, 62 in 99 tries to be exact, the majority coming on a fastball with which Parker effectively changed speeds. A devastating changeup worked just as well, too, in his 6 1/3 innings.
And though he didn't walk away with his first Major League victory over a Chicago team he grew up watching, denied when closer Grant Balfour was tagged with his first blown save by giving up a game-tying homer to Paul Konerko in the ninth, Parker was very much a part of an extraordinary team win, a 5-4 decision determined by Kila Ka'aihue's walk-off bloop single against Hector Santiago in the 14th.
By that time, Parker was nearly two hours removed from the mound -- the memory of his time on it, not nearly so distant.
"Yeah, I'm pretty tired," a smiling Parker said when asked if he felt like he even pitched earlier in the day. "But obviously a win like that takes away any feelings of being tired. We were all going crazy when he hit that."
And for all the wild happenings that came with the victory, the biggest storyline was scripted by Parker.
The 23-year-old's much-anticipated debut reflected just the type of pitcher the A's talked up when acquiring his services over the winter in exchange for All-Star Trevor Cahill. Just days ago, A's manager Bob Melvin noted he has "just as high of a ceiling as anyone" in the organization's youthful crop, and it appears Parker has the potential to reach the top first.
"I thought he was terrific, I really did," Melvin said after the game. "That's a pretty good lineup, especially middle of the order. Great start for him. We feel really good about him."
Parker's opponent on Wednesday held a special meaning for the pitcher, who idolized the likes of former White Sox player and current manager Robin Ventura. He would run home from school to watch games with his grandfather and was thrilled to celebrate Chicago's World Series title as a 15-year-old in 2005.
"I was excited to throw against them and see some of those guys, and obviously a win is just icing on the cake," he said.