Gerardo Parra’s buoyant edge wasn’t as patent as usual when he reported to Salt River Fields on Tuesday — the day Arizona Diamondbacks position players were scheduled to report to camp.
There were no air horns to be heard in the team clubhouse and no batting practice antics to be seen on Field 2 — Jackrabbit Field — when he joined outfielders Mark Trumbo, Matt Tuiasosopo and Cody Ross in a coaches-led session around 11:00 a.m.
Instead, there was, for once, a measure of reservedness about him.
And perhaps that’s a good thing.
Parra, who spent the majority of the offseason outside of the United States, took part in Venezuelan winter ball in November and December.
“I (felt) tired,” he said of his time playing in his native country at the end of last year.
No one should be surprised by that tidbit.
Parra, who has a tendency of playing with distinct intensity, seemed to wear down over the course of the 2013 season.
After getting out to a hot start in his first 65 games — at which point he was hitting .322/ .388/ .475 — Parra hurtled downward, batting just .226/ .271/ .347 from June 14 to Sep. 29. Despite logging 84 hits in those first 65 games, the two-time Gold Glover managed just 77 hits in his final 91.
He took big leads while on base, as always. He dove for balls and crashed into the wall, as always. He showed off his big left arm whenever possible — sometimes gunning down runners from the outfield warning track, even in the latter innings of blowouts. He just refused to slow down, and he seemed to wear down. And then he slowed down, involuntarily.
Parra, whose love for baseball is incredibly evident, might be labeled “reckless” by some.
But as he ran his fingers backward through his hair and sighed Tuesday at his Salt River Fields locker, he seemed different.
Expressing gratitude for his new, one-year, reported $4.85 million contract, he didn’t want to discuss the fall off the precipice midway through last season.
“I don’t think (too much about) last year,” the 26-year-old said. “That’s the past.”
After taking January off, though, to work on his swing and run agility drills with an unknown friend in Miami, Parra looks forward to 2014.
“I (feel) good,” he said. “I never (felt) really, really tired last season.”
The wear caught up with him in Venezuela, however.
Parra, one of a slew of Diamondbacks outfielders, feels refreshed and hopeful now back in Arizona. But he wouldn’t commit to pacing his intensity in the upcoming season.
“I play to win,” he explained. “And (I do) what I can to help the team.”