YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Parker Enjoys Life in Low-Rent District

August 19, 1991|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

You definitely know you're in the minor leagues when:

--You have seven roommates but still can't afford to buy a television.

--You pay only $82.50 a month in rent and are proud of it.

--That little apartment you had in Class-A Clearwater, Fla., a few months back seems like a luxury penthouse compared to your present living quarters.

Stacy Parker, a former Foothill High School and UC Irvine outfielder, is certainly roughing it this summer. He and seven teammates on the Class-A Bend (Ore.) Bucks are crammed into a four-bedroom dormitory at Central Oregon Community College, cutting costs and jockeying for bathroom time.

"There's only one shower in the place, so you've got to get up pretty early in the morning to get the hot water," Parker, 23, said. "It's not the best living arrangement, but it's cheap. You can't beat $82.50 a month."

And you can't beat a chance to play every day. That's why Parker is at Bend, a Northwest League independent team that consists of free agents, castoffs and players who are on loan from other organizations.

Parker fits into the last category. A 42nd-round draft pick of the Texas Rangers in 1989, Parker tore ligaments in his left ankle during a rookie-league game early in the 1989 season.

He missed the rest of the season and was released in the spring of 1990. Parker went to about 10 tryout camps in Southern California and eventually was picked up by the Philadelphia Phillies in August, 1990.

Parker earned a spot on the Phillies' Clearwater team last spring but got only 15 at-bats in about two months. The Phillies seemed to like his work habits, though, and sent him to Bend to get some playing time.

The center fielder got off to a rough start, striking out four times in his first game June 17 and going hitless in his first 11 at-bats but has since lifted his average to .251 with 35 runs, 21 runs batted in and 16 stolen bases.

"I feel fortunate to be playing every day and getting at-bats instead of sitting on the bench," Parker said. "Some guys here are happy to get a chance to play, and others are disappointed they were sent outside their organization."

All seem hungry for success, Parker said, but it took some time to achieve it. The Bucks lost 19 of their first 26 games and were averaging about three errors per game for the first month of the season.

They turned things around, though, and were 27-33 going into Sunday's game.

"Guys were trying to impress the manager and were trying to do too much," Parker said. "People are from different organizations and it took a while to get used to playing with guys. It looked like we might have trouble winning 20 games, but we're a lot better now."

Add Bend: The Bucks' third-base coach this season is former El Modena High standout Jim Fregosi Jr., the son of Philadelphia Phillies Manager Jim Fregosi.

Fregosi Jr.'s four-year, minor-league playing career ended in 1988 when he was released by the Montreal Expos organization. He had reached the double-A level with the St. Louis Cardinals before moving to the Expos, who sent him to Class-A West Palm Beach in 1988.

Fregosi Jr., who played shortstop, third base and catcher, didn't feel he was in the Expos' plans, so he asked for, and received, his release. He returned to Orange County and bought a bottled water distributorship, which he ran in Orange for about three years.

"But I helped out (coaching) at El Modena this year and got the bug again, and I wanted to get back into baseball," Fregosi Jr., 27, said. "This job came up and I jumped at it."

Fregosi Jr. would like to manage some day, and he's considering a career in scouting. He said he will attend the Major League Scouting Bureau School in Florida this off-season.

"I think I'd be a good scout, but my heart is in coaching," Fregosi Jr. said. "I was always interested in learning when I played. I was a student of the game."

Fregosi Jr., who is married and has a 9-month old son, Jim III, stays in contact with his father, but the two talk as much about "father-son things" as they do baseball, Fregosi Jr. said.

He also doesn't expect his father to help him land a plum coaching job somewhere.

"I have connections, but you have to make a name for yourself in this game," Fregosi Jr. said.

No big deal: You would expect a player who was demoted from the major leagues to triple-A to be dejected, but infielder Dave Rohde had no qualms with the Houston Astros' decision to send him to triple-A Tucson in early June.

"I wasn't doing much of anything up there," said Rohde, a former Corona del Mar High, Saddleback College and Arizona standout. "When you're playing once every three weeks, it's not a real fun situation."

Rohde, a switch-hitting shortstop/second baseman, has been playing every day for Tucson and having a good time, batting .367 with four triples, 28 RBIs and 13 stolen bases in 58 games.

In 29 games with Houston, five as a starter, Rohde batted .122 (five for 41) with eight strikeouts.

Los Angeles Times Articles