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WSI News - News Watch

Parque's fastball still needs more speed

March 18, 2002

By Doug Padilla, Chicago Sun-Times

TUCSON, Ariz.--One thing you can say about Jim Parque is that he is a fighter.

One day after White Sox manager Jerry Manuel all but wrote off his left-hander as part of the team's season-opening rotation, Parque pitched in a B game Sunday with all the gusto of a rookie in his first outing.

Unfortunately, with a limited arsenal of fastballs and change-ups, Parque also pitched somewhat like a rookie. His goal of opening the season as the Sox' No. 3 starter appears to be a serious long shot.

Pitching for the Sox' Class AAA squad against the Arizona Diamondbacks' Class AAA team, Parque went five innings, giving up nine hits and four runs in 62 pitches, easily his highest pitch count of the spring.

"I'll tell you what, it was a big improvement from last time," said Parque, who topped out at 84 mph on the radar gun, the same as his last start in an intrasquad game four days earlier. "I'm going by what the hitters were doing, what Jerry was saying and what my catcher [Jonathan Aceves] was saying, which was most important.

"[Aceves] caught me early in spring when I had a bullpen [throwing session], he caught me my last start and he caught me this start. He said it was a huge difference from last time. I felt way better."

Manuel, satisfied with what he has seen out of Opening Day starter Mark Buehrle, elected not to go with the team as they traveled two hours north to Mesa to face the Cubs. Manuel watched Parque pitch the first four of his five innings. The two even chatted outside the dugout before Manuel went off to catch a glimpse of a Class AA game.

"Jerry's good with that philosophy stuff 'cause I kind of like the philosophy, deep-thinking stuff," Parque said. "He came up and said, 'Do you know what patience is?' He said 'You got to have patience,' because I kept asking, 'What's the speed? What's the speed?' He said 'Don't worry about that.'

"He said, 'Patience. Do you know what that means?' I said 'What?' He said 'It's a long, long suffering.' And that's what it's been. It's been a long suffering from last year."

Parque continues to hold out hope he will be used in the Sox' third game in Seattle--his offseason hometown--but for the first time Sunday, he acknowledged the fact that he probably won't start until April 10 at the earliest.

"Jerry and I had a talk and he just said that the major thing is that I'm going to be a part of this team," Parque said. "I know that, he knows that, everybody knows that. I'm going to be a part of this team and I'm going to win ballgames for us."

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