Lance Parrish is coming home and the Angels are betting $1 million that a little home cooking is all he will need to return to the form that made him a seven-time All-Star.
Parrish, who lives in Yorba Linda, agreed to a 1-year contract with the Angels for a reported $1- million base salary and a possible $400,000 in bonus incentives. The Philadelphia Phillies will receive minor league pitcher David Holdridge in exchange for the veteran catcher.
The deal was complicated by negotiations in the Collusion II case. Parrish probably will be ruled a free agent soon, but he waived that right, for 1 year, to sign with the Angels for 1989.
Parrish, 32, played in 123 games and had a batting average of .215 with 15 home runs and 60 runs batted in this season with the Phillies. But he believes playing near home will provide a mental rejuvenation that should mean a return to the kind of numbers he regularly posted with Detroit.
A first-round draft pick by the Tigers out of Walnut High School in the June 1974 draft, Parrish had a .263 average with 212 homers and 700 RBIs in 9 seasons with Detroit. In 1983, he hit .269 with 27 home runs and 114 RBIs.
“I’m very happy; things couldn’t have worked out better,” Parrish said. “Getting back home was our top priority as a family. This is where our lives are . . . where we’ve rooted ourselves.
“The last two seasons in Philadelphia have been a strain. When I was with the Tigers, we had a house in Detroit, too. But with the kids (David, 9, Matthew, 6, and Ashley, who is 4 today) in school, it was a lot harder to be together.”
Mike Port, the Angels’ general manager, is not the kind who lets sentimentality play a role in a business decision. He’s convinced that home, sweet home for Parrish can mean a sweet deal for the Angels, too.
“I think Lance’s return to the area, and his return to the American League, are significant factors,” Port said. “It’s important for all of us to contemplate that Lance is back in a situation where he enjoyed outstanding success.
“He has confidence based on his past performance in the American League. He knows he’s done it before. And we are optimistic that he will do it again.”
Parrish probably will be declared a “no-risk” free agent by arbitrator George Nicolau during the penalty phase of the Collusion II grievance hearings. So the Angels required he waive that right before a deal could be consummated.
Tom Reich, Parrish’s agent, said that was not much of an obstacle.
“Let’s make one thing clear right off,” Reich said. “Lance has not waived any of his rights to (punitive) damages, he only waived the right to become a free agent right now. And we had no problem with that because the Angels were his No. 1 pick. They are clearly the team he wanted to play for.
“It was a great resolution. Lance is as happy as he could be. He’s thrilled because he’ll get to work and play in his own back yard and have the chance to re-establish himself as the premier catcher in baseball.”
Reich also said that Parrish hopes to establish a relationship with the Angels that will go far beyond this 1-year contract. Port agrees that is a definite possibility.
“I can easily envision how this could become a long-term relationship,” Port said.
The acquisition of Parrish creates questions about veteran Bob Boone. Can the 41-year-old repeat a season during which he caught 121 games and batted a career-high .295? Is there a possibility Boone will be the next Angel manager as has been speculated?
Boone has said he’s not ready to end his playing career, and Port is talking about the two veterans sharing the load behind the plate. He’s not talking about managerial candidates.
“With no disregard for the great season Bob Boone had, I think having two outstanding catchers is a far better situation than having one too few,” Port said.
Parrish, for one, can’t think of anything about his stint in Philadelphia that was outstanding, though. In 1987, he hit .245 with 17 homers and 67 RBIs before slumping further this year. He says the Phillies’ poor record--they finished 65-96, last in the NL East, 35 1/2 games out--was part of the problem this season.
“It was tough,” he said. “I was under the impression that we were going to be right in the race. It was kind of hard to believe we did as poorly as we did from the outset. It’s no fun losing, there’s no doubt about that.
“I’ve had a couple of seasons I’d just soon forget. I haven’t had any physical problems other than a lower back strain that kind of goes with the territory when you’re a catcher.
“It’s been a mental problem more than anything. Coming home has given me a mental uplift that makes me feel very positive about the future. I think the Angels have a chance to win, and I’m really looking forward to next season.”
Holdridge, a 19-year-old right-hander, did not pitch his senior year at Huntington Beach’s Ocean View High School after dislocating his shoulder in a pickup football game when he ran into a pole.
He returned to the mound this season with the Class-A Quad Cities Angels and finished with a 6-12 record and a 3.87 earned-run average. He won 4 of his last 7 decisions and struck out 110 in 153 innings.
“The Phillies had great reports on him when he was a high school player,” Phillie General Manager Lee Thomas said. “We also had the same type of opinion when I was with St. Louis.”
Holdridge was the Angels’ first-round selection in the 1987 draft as compensation for Reggie Jackson signing with Oakland.
LANCE PARRISH’S CAREER STATISTICS REGULAR SEASON
Year Team AB R H HR RBI Avg. 1977 Detroit 46 10 9 3 7 .196 1978 Detroit 288 37 63 14 41 .219 1979 Detroit 493 65 136 19 65 .276 1980 Detroit 553 79 158 24 82 .286 1981 Detroit 348 39 85 10 46 .244 1982 Detroit 486 75 138 32 87 .284 1983 Detroit 605 80 163 27 114 .269 1984 Detroit 578 75 137 33 98 .237 1985 Detroit 549 64 150 28 98 .273 1986 Detroit 327 53 84 22 62 .257 1987 Phila. 466 42 114 17 67 .245 1988 Phila. 424 44 91 15 60 .215 Totals 12 Years 5163 663 1328 244 827 .257 PLAYOFFS 1984 Detroit 12 1 3 1 3 .250 Totals 12 1 3 1 3 .250 WORLD SERIES 1984 Detroit 18 3 5 1 1 .278 Totals 18 3 5 1 1 .278