Lance Parrish, shown here as a coach in spring training in 2005, had a 19-year career in the majors as a player, including 10 in Detroit. (Steve Perez / Detroit News)
Detroit — Lance Parrish wasn’t sure he’d ever get another chance in baseball.
Then the Tigers called, out of the blue, last week and offered him an opportunity to manage their Double-A affiliate in Erie.
It was the easiest of decisions.
“Just unbelievable,” Parrish, the former Tigers catcher, told The News. “I thought so much time had passed, I wouldn’t get another opportunity. I’m really excited to be able to do that again.”
Erie made official Wednesday what The News first reported last week: Parrish, who hasn’t managed since 2007 in the Dodgers’ system, was the Tigers’ choice to guide Erie for 2014.
The job opened up after Chris Cron left for a job in the Diamondbacks system last month.
Parrish, 57, has a somewhat lengthy coaching resume — including six years on the Tigers’ big league staff, under managers Larry Parrish, Phil Garner and Alan Trammell, plus two years managing in the Dodgers’ system, one in rookie ball and one in Single A.
He was let go by the Dodgers after the 2007, the inaugural season for the Great Lakes Loons in Midland, and hasn’t had an opportunity since.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity, and I tried to convey that to them,” said Parrish, who last Monday got the call at his Nashville, Tenn., home from Tigers assistant GM Al Avila. “It’s been a while since I managed, but I’ve had a lot of time to study.”
During his time with the Dodgers, he managed future stars Clayton Kershaw and Carlos Santana.
“What can I bring to this job? I can just bring me,” Parrish said. “My desire is to be the very best at my job and try to help the players out the best I can. I’ve always felt I develop a good rapport with the players, whether in the minors or the majors.”
Parrish had a 19-year playing career, which included 10 seasons with the Tigers. He won three Gold Gloves and six Silver Sluggers (five in Detroit), and made eight All-Star teams.
Still, he had regrets — specifically leaving the Tigers for the Phillies following the 1986 season. It was a money decision, and it didn’t exactly work out for the best for him and his family, as he struggled in Philadelphia and had to deal with a notoriously harsh fan base.
He also played for the Angels, Mariners, Pirates, Indians and Blue Jays, but make no mistake: He’s a Tiger.
“I always consider myself a Detroit Tiger,” Parrish said. “Even when I went to Philly, I didn’t want to go to Philly. After I was gone a year or two, I was hoping some time or way the Tigers would get me back.
“When I was done with playing, I wanted to get back into the Tigers system as a coach or manager. It was great when I had the opportunity to coach up there. I enjoyed the heck out of it.”
Parrish wasn’t the Tigers’ first choice to manage Erie. Tom Brookens, who was on Jim Leyland’s staff, was offered the position, and turned it down. Minor league coordinators Bruce Fields and Gene Roof were asked about their interest in the job, declined to pursue it, and remain in their current roles.
The Tigers never got a “yes,” opening the door for Parrish, who is especially grateful.
“And I’m hoping to parlay this into an opportunity to get back to the big leagues,” Parrish said.