One of the side benefits of Adam Jones' persistent back stiffness is that it has allowed the Orioles to take the occasional look at Gerardo Parra in center field, in case there is a future need.
Where Parra's future will be, however, is undetermined. But the pending free agent said he has enjoyed his time in Baltimore and would like to come back if there's a fit.
"For sure. I like the fans. I like the team. I like the players," said Parra, whom the Orioles acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers for pitcher Zach Davies on July 31. "I like everything about here. It's a great team and all the people are good to me."
When the Orioles dealt for Parra, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said the club wanted to lock up the 28-year-old, two-time Gold Glover. Sources say the club still wants to pursue a longer deal with Parra this winter, despite his offensive struggles since the trade.
Parra hit .328 with a .369 on-base percentage and nine homers in 100 games with Milwaukee this year but was batting just .219 with a .249 OBP and five homers in 48 games as an Oriole heading into Monday night. He admitted he's had some trouble adjusting to the American League after a seven-season career spent exclusively in the National League.
"A little bit, a little bit because sometimes for the first time I see a pitcher," Parra said. "But you just have to have concentration and try to stay in and relax and just see the baseball."
Parra has demonstrated his worth to the team in ways other than offensively. He's started six games in left, four in center and 24 in right for the Orioles. He's hit in five different spots in the lineup. On Monday he batted leadoff for the fifth time as an Oriole.
"I will play no matter wherever the manager needs me. Whether he needs me to leadoff tonight, or hit in the ninth spot," Parra said. "I enjoy it all because I'm playing. And that's the big point. I just want to play every day or as much as I can and I don't want to think about leadoff or anything else."
Parra also said he doesn't want to contemplate his immediate future following the Orioles' final week of the season. That's something he'll worry about in the offseason, he said.
"I just want to finish the season and after the season I'll wait to see what happens," he said. "I just want to be happy that I've finished strong and healthy. That's the big part right now."
Double-A Bowie pitching coach Alan Mills joined the Orioles on Monday and will be with the team as an extra coach for the rest of this final homestand.
Mills, who oversaw a pitching staff that won the Eastern League championship this year, is considered one of the up-and-coming coaches in the organization.
"Alan walks a really good line between pitching coach mechanics and also the mental/emotional side of it," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Alan knows so much of the intangibles it takes to be successful up here other than a stat sheet or the analytic part of it. He does both."
The 48-year-old Mills spent 12 years as a major-league reliever, including nine with the Orioles. He posted a career 4.12 ERA in 474 appearances.
"Alan is the type of guy who won't tell you about his resume and at some point you're going to find out about it," Showalter said. "He doesn't go around saying, 'Read the bio.' If Alan had never played in the big leagues, he'd [still] be a good pitching coach."
Around the horn
The Orioles agreed on a $300,000 contract with 18-year-old left-hander Alex Wells from Australia. Listed at 6 feet 2, Wells is expected to take his physical Tuesday in Baltimore. His twin brother, Lachlan, is a pitcher in the Minnesota Twins organization. … Heading into Monday, the Orioles were 12-6 when Jones didn't start. …. The club still lists Thursday's starter against the Toronto Blue Jays as TBA. But assuming he's not needed in relief, rookie right-hander Tyler Wilson will get the assignment opposite lefty David Price. … Washington Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon dropped his appeal of a three-game suspension for hitting Manny Machado with a pitch Wednesday. The Nationals further suspended Papelbon for the remainder of the season after he choked Bryce Harper in the dugout Sunday. … All fans attending Wednesday's game will receive a Miguel Gonzalez-designed, "El Mariachi" T-shirt.