Ex-Mets closer Parnell called up to Tigers bullpen

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Bobby Parnell of the Mets celebrates after a game against the Braves at Turner Field in 2013.

Anaheim, Calif. — Bobby Parnell probably had June 1 circled on his calendar.

The former Mets closer who saved 22 games in 2013, back when he was throwing 100 mph bullets at hitters, had been pitching at Triple A Toledo, trying to work his way back to the big leagues.

June 1 was the date he could opt out of his minor league contract if he wanted to.

Didn’t need to.

The Tigers on Wednesday purchased his contract and placed pitcher Warwick Saupold (groin) on the 15-day disabled list.

“He did have the opt-out on the first, but that wasn’t the reason we called him up,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “I called Mac (Toledo manager Lloyd McClendon) to see who he thought could help us and Parnell was the guy.”

Parnell, who is two years removed from Tommy John surgery, isn’t throwing triple-digit heat any more. But he can still ring the gun at 95 and 96 mph. Yet, he had an uneven run through two months at Toledo.

In 21 appearances, he has four saves and a 3.98 ERA (nine runs in 201/3 innings). He’s walked 11 and struck out 16.

“Mac said he’s been throwing well lately,” Ausmus said. “He had thrown well early and then went through a couple of bad outings. Recently he’s been pitching well again.”

Parnell pitched in Louisville Tuesday and got to the ballpark here two hours before the game.

It could be a short stay for him, though. Shane Greene could come off the disabled list early next week. Also, the Tigers are presently carrying one extra pitcher and one fewer position player.

Ausmus said that is likely to be altered next week.

As for Saupold, he sustained the injury in the sixth inning Tuesday reaching back for an errant throw from Miguel Cabrera on a play at first base.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Tigers designated for assignment right-handed pitcher Jose Valdez.

Weighty issue

James McCann is likely to catch as many as 130 games this season. He plays the most grueling position in arguably the most grueling grind in professional sports.

So what the heck is he doing lifting weights before every game? Seems counter-productive, fatiguing, doesn’t it?

“Not at all,” McCann said. “I’m not trying to get bigger and stronger, just trying to maintain strength.”

Every day he does a lower body lift, and upper body lift and core work.

“This is what I found keeps me strong into September,” he said. “For me, I have to stay on it, otherwise I will lose weight. I need to maintain strength through the end of the season.”

He isn’t lifting big weights. The weight work is mostly to activate his muscles, a fairly high-intensity warm-up. On most days, he will finish between three and four hours prior to game time, so he has plenty of time to recover.

“A lot of guys do that now,” Ausmus said. “Twenty-five years ago, no one did. They come in early and finish with at least three hours to recover before they hit. I don’t think it affects him in a bad way.

Around the horn

Cameron Maybin, who was removed from the game Tuesday after irritating his left wrist, was back in the lineup Wednesday.

… Former Tiger Jefry Marte put a hurt on his former mates Tuesday. He went 4-for-4 with a home and double.



Yankees at Tigers

First pitch: 7:40 p.m. Thursday (makeup from April 10), Comerica Park, Detroit

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Scouting report

RHP Michael Pineda (2-6, 6.92), Yankees: Struggling. In his last four starts, he’s been tagged for 20 runs and 30 hits in 201/3 innings. Opponents are hitting .345 against him. On the season, opponents are hitting .319 and his WHIP is 1.65. He’s still primarily a fastball (93 mph), slider (87 mph) pitcher. He still hasn’t mastered a true off-speed pitch.

LHP Matt Boyd (0-0, 2.79), Tigers: Vital start for Boyd. The Tigers rotation could be undergoing some alterations and he has a chance to pitch himself into the conversation. The Yankees are a heavy left-handed-hitting lineup, which may or may not work in Boyd’s favor. Lefties have hit him at a .347 clip in his young career.