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DODGERS : Parrish Says He Isn’t Surprised by Being Released

TIMES STAFF WRITER

There was a time when Lance Parrish thought he would spend his entire career with the Detroit Tigers. Then there came a time when he thought he would finish it with the Angels.

Then suddenly, fate put him at the Dodgers’ front door. Monday night, that door also slammed shut when Parrish was told he had not made the team.

“They told me they had decided to go with two catchers,” Parrish said. “I wasn’t surprised. It wasn’t difficult for me to figure out. Not too many teams carry three catchers, but I was hoping this would be the exception.

“I just basically ran out of time.”

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Parrish, a bit shaken after he got the news from Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda and Executive Vice President Fred Claire, said he is not ready to quit. “In my heart I want to keep playing; I am far from the point where I feel I should retire,” the 15-year veteran said.

It was not so much that Parrish lost the job, but that rookie Mike Piazza, 24, won it. Piazza, who is the Dodgers’ starting catcher, is batting .514 in 37 at-bats, including three home runs, four doubles and 10 runs batted in.

Piazza’s backup is Carlos Hernandez, 25, who is solid defensively and usually hits better than his spring average of .233. Both catchers are from the Dodgers’ farm system.

But Parrish, 36, said he also hits better than his .200 average would indicate.

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“One good thing from this is that I know I am in good health and I proved I can still play,” Parrish said. “I know my batting average wasn’t the greatest, but 20 at-bats isn’t the best indicator of what kind of hitter you are.”

After their meeting, Lasorda said: “It’s the toughest part of my job to have to tell a guy like Lance that we are not going to keep him. I can’t tell you how hard it is. He is a class guy, a credit to his family and to baseball. He came to camp and worked so hard, I only wish we could have kept him. It came down to him and somebody else, and we just thought somebody else was more valuable to our team at this particular time.”

Parrish said he still can’t understand fully the events of the past year--why the Angels released him in the middle of last season, and why his next team, the Seattle Mariners, led him to believe his contract would be extended but didn’t follow through.

“It has been the most bizarre period of my entire career,” Parrish said. “In my entire life, I can’t figure out or justify why the Angels released me. . . . It’s still a mystery to me. I decided if they didn’t want me, I would just go somewhere else. At Seattle, I thought I had done a real good job. But for some reason, I haven’t been able to hook on with any team.

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“The Angels said they were doing me a favor by releasing me, but I don’t think it’s a favor for anyone when they are released. It puts a black mark against the individual, for whatever reason. I had spent a couple of short periods on the disabled list with the Angels, and when they released me, I wondered if other teams may have thought something is wrong with me.

“With the Angels, I hit 20 home runs the first three years, and in my third year made the All-Star team as a starter and was the club’s MVP. Maybe it was the new management team, with Whitey (Herzog) and Buck (Rodgers). But they had to pay me anyway. They might as well have kept me until the end of the season. It really put me in a difficult position because I did a good job for them.”

Parrish said the Dodgers offered to let him stay in camp and work out until he decides what he is going to do. Parrish planned to talk with his agent about other teams and might work out a triple-A contract with the Dodgers.

“I don’t have a team to identify with anymore,” Parrish said. “It does kind of hurt. It feels like I am being pushed out of baseball.”

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Dodger Notes

Kevin Elster said his sprained shoulder felt better Monday, but not well enough for the Dodgers to decide that they should put him on the 25-man roster. The Dodgers have to decide today whether Elster and Lee Guetterman, the spring camp invitees, make the club. In Elster’s case, the deadline is expected to be extended until April 4. . . . The Dodgers’ 23 hits in their 12-8 exhibition victory over the Atlanta Braves on Monday were their most this spring. Four Dodgers had extra-base hits. Eric Davis was four for six, including a home run, and had two runs batted in.

With Mike Piazza at bat and runners on first and second during the fourth inning, Piazza lined to Otis Nixon, who threw to Rafael Belliard at second, and Belliard’s throw to Brian Hunter at first finished the triple play. . . . The Dodgers traded Class-A pitcher David Fitzpatrick to the Chicago White Sox for Greg Perschke, a triple-A pitcher. Both are right-handers.


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