Parent has feeling of belonging

August 05, 1993|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff Writer

This almost was the spring that Mark Parent decided he finally had had enough of baseball.

For the second straight year, Parent, 31, was the Orioles' final spring training cut, the third catcher on a team that could only find room for two. For the better part of 14 years, Parent had languished in the minor- league organizations of San Diego, Texas and Baltimore.

There would be no more bus rides, no more waiting for one more call to the big leagues, he thought.

"I had had a pretty good spring. Jeff [Tackett] had had a pretty good spring. Apparently, it came down to a coach's vote," said Parent. "I was ready to quit. It almost happened."

But then, as Parent and his wife, Wendy, were ready to move close to their families in San Diego, where they considered investing in a health club, Orioles pitcher Rick Sutcliffe arrived to ask Parent to reconsider. The talk worked.

"Rick didn't have to do that, and he knows I appreciate it," Parent said. "It was a good talk. The bottom line was that Baltimore was able to take care of me financially. They were willing to make it worth my while to be an insurance policy."

And when starting catcher Chris Hoiles left Monday night's game with a lower back strain, Parent got his reward. Tuesday, he was recalled from Rochester. Last night, he made his first major-league start of the year against the Brewers.

"I feel bad for Chris, since he's having such a great year. On the other side, I was coming back to the big leagues again," Parent said.

Parent held his own last night. Although he went 0-for-2, he reached base on a walk in the second inning. In the fourth inning, he drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to make it 7-1. That run proved meaningful, as the Orioles held off a late Milwaukee rally for an 8-6 victory.

Parent also was promoted to the Orioles last year, after Hoiles went down with a fractured wrist in June and missed most of the summer. This time, Parent felt different as he took the field.

"I felt like I belonged," he said.

Parent certainly earned the chance. In 15 years of professional ball, he has just under five years of major-league experience. But after his demotion in April, he went back to Rochester.

In 92 games for the Red Wings, Parent hit .247, but hit 14 home runs and drove in 56 runs in 332 at-bats.

"With a guy my age, stats are a no-win situation. If you do well, you're supposed to do well," Parent said. "I just decided that if I was a young player in Triple-A and an old guy came down, I'd want him to lead by example."

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