The Angels must submit their season-opening 25-man roster to Major League Baseball by noon Sunday. Because he has struck out 17 consecutive batters, right-hander Blake Parker will be included on it.
Even if he was sent to triple-A Salt Lake instead, Parker knew where he would be sleeping: inside his new recreational vehicle. The 31-year-old journeyman reliever purchased a so-called fifth wheel last week in Phoenix, towed it to California when the Angels broke camp and kept it parked at Angel Stadium until he found out where to go. He scouted several locations across Orange County that have WiFi and pool access for his wife and stepson to enjoy.
“We’ll move it wherever we are,” he said.
Parker learned Saturday night at Dodger Stadium that he made the opening-day roster for the first time in his career. The Angels also added right-hander Bud Norris to their bullpen. To create space, they will designate for assignment right-handed relievers Austin Adams and Kirby Yates.
After an offseason spent working with weighted balls, Parker added nearly 2 mph to his fastball, carrying his velocity from average to interesting. He’s a curious type, completing crossword puzzles in clubhouses before games and asking Angels trainers for their opinion on the weighted baseballs.
Parker recently watched a documentary titled “Minimalism.” On the show, he said, they studied where residents spend time in their houses, using heat signatures. Almost all time at home is concentrated in one-quarter of the living space: the kitchen, the living room, the bedroom.
“The rest is just wasted space,” he said.
Parker makes his offseason residence in his home state of Arkansas, where he attended high school and college. He has lived in every corner of the country for his job the last few years after spending his first professional decade in the Chicago Cubs organization. He’s fed up with short-term rent costs and nonrefundable pet deposits at big-city apartments.
After going from New York to Anaheim to Milwaukee and back to Anaheim on the waiver wire over the offseason, he decided to make his life more mobile. And, he said, surprisingly comfortable.
“It’s not like we’re all in this one, little, tiny room,” Parker said. “It’s small, but it’s big enough. It helps to be able to pack up and take all your stuff, wherever you go. And then at the end of the year, I have this fifth wheel I can go camping in for a couple weeks, take a road trip.”
Parker struck out 24 batters in 12 1/3 spring innings. He logged a 0.73 earned-run average in 12 appearances.
Manager Mike Scioscia has long cautioned against overvaluing spring-training statistics, and he referenced that Saturday when discussing Parker and his strikeout streak.
“Those become hollow if they’re not backed up with other things that are going to be more tangible moving forward,” Scioscia said. “But if you’re asking me about Blake Parker, what he’s done so far is very real. It’s not like you have a guy that was effectively wild and you had guys that were not locked in at the beginning of spring swinging at pitches way out of the zone and all the sudden he’s punching out all these guys.
“His ability to repeat pitches has been very impressive. It allows him to get to good counts, where he’s managed to strike guys out.”
Left-hander Tyler Skaggs will start Thursday afternoon in Oakland, he and Scioscia confirmed. That cements the Angels’ season-opening starting rotation, which will begin with right-handers Ricky Nolasco, Matt Shoemaker and Garrett Richards. Right-hander Jesse Chavez, who started Saturday at Dodger Stadium, will follow Skaggs in Friday’s home opener at Angel Stadium. … Right-hander Vicente Campos will be put on the 10-day disabled list. Acquired off waivers in November, Campos was bothered by a nerve issue in his forearm during the spring. … Asked whether there was any chance Albert Pujols would play first base during the four games in Oakland, Scioscia said, “No.” The manager said Pujols could play the position in National League stadiums.
Follow Pedro Moura on Twitter @pedromoura