He had been in the Orioles clubhouse for less than a day, but trade-deadline acquisition Gerardo Parra had already made a positive impression on manager Buck Showalter.
Hours after being dealt to the Orioles from the Milwaukee Brewers — starting a frenetic day that included news of his trade, packing, flying and driving to reach Camden Yards on time for Friday's game — Parra's first act with his new team when he arrived was to go through the Orioles dugout and shake everyone's hand.
Showalter took notice while reviewing the Orioles' 8-7 win over the Detroit Tigers at Camden Yards.
"He came in the dugout, he wanted to make sure he put hands on everybody," Showalter said. "It was kind of funny. I was watching it at home last night, I wanted to see some of the defensive plays that we had, one of we had messed up. But he was trying to get [Nolan Reimold's] attention. He kept touching Nolan to turn around. He made sure he went around. It's going to be a pretty quick transition with him because he reaches out. And our guys reach out, so it's a good combination."
Parra said he felt at home quickly upon arriving at Camden Yards.
"You know, when your attitude is good, everything is good," Parra said. "… For me, right know I feel like I'm in the family. I feel like I've been here for 10 years. I'm happy to be here."
The Orioles did plenty of homework on the 28-year-old Parra — a pending free agent who entered Saturday hitting a career-high .328 and who boasts two Gold Glove awards, one at each corner-outfield position — and received nothing but glowing reviews.
The Orioles hope Parra can not only upgrade a left-field position that had combined to hit .210, ranking 29th out of 30 for MLB left fielders before his arrival, but also be a catalyst on the bases, defensively and off the field.
Parra made his first start with his new club Saturday against the Tigers, batting second and starting in left field. He drew a standing ovation when he stepped to the plate in the first inning, and promptly doubled in his first plate appearance as an Oriole to extend his major league-leading hitting streak to 15.
Showalter sat down with Parra before the game to ask him his preferences. Parra was just happy to be in the starting lineup.
"He talked to me and asked me what position I wanted to play," Parra said. "For me, as long as I see my name in the lineup, I'm happy. No matter where, no matter the position or where I am batting, I just want to play because it's my passion. It's my passion to play baseball hard. If I'm not hitting, I'm going to play defense hard because for me, defense is just like hitting. You can win the game that way, too. That's my passion; play hard."
While Parra is an option to bat leadoff — he is a .288/.339/.456 hitter in 199 career games atop the order — Showalter decided to hit him second in his Orioles debut to keep Manny Machado in the leadoff spot, where the third baseman has excelled this season. Parra is a .283/.338/.391 hitter in 134 games in the No. 2 hole.
"We talked about it a lot," Showalter said. "I talked with him more than anything. Sat down with him today, talked about the outfield where he feels the most comfortable and batting order where he feels the most comfortable. From what I'd heard about him, I got the response I thought I'd get. He goes, 'I just want to win. You guys put me wherever. As long as I'm in one of the nine.'
"I'd like to stay with something if we can, but I could hit any of the [top] four guys anywhere. I don't think it is going to matter to them. I thought Manny got a little big kind of changing a little bit going down in the order. As good a year as Parra is having, Manny's having as good if not better."
In Milwaukee, Parra split playing time with outfielders Carlos Gomez, Khris Davis and Ryan Braun. After Davis' return from the disabled list, Parra started 14 of his last 18 games with the Brewers. With the Orioles, he jumps to the top of the team's depth chart in left field.
Ultimately, the Orioles would like to sign Parra to an extension to take full benefit of the trade, which cost them Triple-A pitching prospect Zach Davies. And Parra is open to remaining in Baltimore long term.
"I'm open," Parra said. "I'm open to everything. I'm happy. I like this organization. I know I've only been here one day, but I see a lot out of these guys. I know it's a good organization and I'm happy to be here. I'd be happy to have a couple more years. I don't want to get too much into that, though. I want to play baseball."