Former Tigers great Lance Parrish waves to the crowd before throwing out the ceremonial fist pitch prior to Game 3 of the 2013 ALCS at Comerica Park. (Robin Buckson / Detroit News)
Detroit — Lance Parrish has been itching to get back in the game.
And the Tigers apparently have granted that wish.
The former All-Star catcher is expected to soon be named manager of team’s Double-A affiliate, the Erie SeaWolves, according to a source. He will replace Chris Cron, who left earlier this month to become minor league hitting coordinator for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
According to the source, Parrish on Monday got a call from Al Avila, the Tigers’ assistant general manager, to gauge his interest. That phone call came two days after Parrish participated in TigerFest at Comerica Park.
The Tigers have not yet confirmed the move.
Parrish had two stints on the Tigers’ major-league coaching staff, under Larry Parrish and Phil Garner from 1999-2001 and under Alan Trammell from 2003-05. He served as a Tigers TV commentator during the break, in 2002.
Parrish, 57, has prior minor-league managerial experience. He managed the Los Angeles Dodgers rookie-league affiliate in 2006 and their Single-A affiliate, the Great Lakes Loons in Midland, during their inaugural season in 2007. That year, he managed such future superstars as Clayton Kershaw and Carlos Santana.
In his playing days, Parrish spent 19 seasons in the major leagues, mostly as a catcher, and mostly with the Tigers. Known as “The Big Wheel,” he was a key cog on the 1984 World Series championship team, contributing 33 home runs and 98 RBIs. The year before, 1983, was perhaps his best season, when he batted .269 with 27 home runs and 98 RBIs. He was an eight-time All-Star, and also won four Gold Glove awards and four Silver Slugger awards.
The Tigers drafted him in the first round of the 1974 draft, out of Walnut (Calif.) High School. He debuted in 1977 and played for Detroit through the 1986 season. In a contract dispute, he departed the following offseason and signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. That was a decision he called one of his greatest regrets. He struggled, and the notoriously harsh Philly fans made life miserable.
He bounced back with the then-California Angels, before brief stops with the Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates and Toronto Blue Jays rounded out his career.
Parrish’s two sons, David and Matthew, also played professional baseball, but never reached the major leagues.
The Tigers had to scramble to fill the Double-A void after Cron abruptly departed. Multiple candidates turned down the job, including Bruce Fields and Gene Roof, The News learned. They opted to stay in their current roles within the organization, as minor league hitting coordinator and baserunning coordinator, respectively.
Conveniently, Erie, Pa., is not terribly far from Parrish’s home in Nashville, Tenn — a quick plane ride, or a one-day drive.
The coaches on the Erie staff — Gerald Perry as hitting coach and Jaime Garcia as pitching coach — are expected to remain in place.
Earlier this month, the Tigers named Andrew Graham manager at Single-A West Michigan, replacing Larry Parrish, who got his old job back as manager of Triple-A Toledo.