Scottsdale, Ariz. -- Both natives of Venezuela, Colorado Rockies mainstay outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and newcomer Gerardo Parra go way back, having played together for years while they were working their way through the minor leagues in the Arizona Diamondbacks' organization. But early roster moves prevented the two from ever playing in the Major Leagues together—until now.
"We pretty much grew as players together, we were in the minors with the Diamondbacks, and then every year we’d play winter ball back home," CarGo told Purple Row about Parra's decision to sign a three-year deal with the Rockies this winter.
"Probably the last time we played together was 2009 in winter ball, and it’s nice to have him back," CarGo added, noting it's been a while since Parra was truly a teammate rather than an opponent. "We know each other very well and now we both have a lot more experience."
Experience is an understatement for the pair, who have combined to play in more than 1,900 Major League games, dozens of which have come against each other. Now, though, after seven years gone by between their last stint at teammates and this coming season in Colorado, both Gonzalez and Parra are finding their roles within the clubhouse are changing.
"Yeah, that is a big difference," Gonzalez mused when discussing how each man is no longer a young prospect playing winter ball together for Aguilas, but rather both are established veterans now responsible for very different things.
"Before, we were in the minor leagues trying to get a chance, and we were just starting in the big leagues the last time we played," Gonzalez added. "Now, he’s got two Gold Gloves, and I’ve got three Gold Gloves, so defensively I think we are going to make a big difference, and offensively, too."
Offensively, Parra comes into Denver now having recently put up good numbers as a visitor at Coors Field, and even though there are questions about his outfield defense, there's no question the newcomer can produce at the plate and help take some of the pressure off CarGo in the Rockies' lineup.
"I think he’s a great hitter and he’s just hitting his prime years, so hopefully he can stay healthy and put up big numbers for us and just help us out," Gonzalez added. "I’m excited about playing next to him, and pushing each other. And that’s really the same thing with all my teammates, just taking the opportunities and playing hard."
That may be the case for the entire roster, but considering how far back they go, Parra and CarGo carry a unique bond. Now, for the first time at the game's highest level, the pair gets to show that connection for the Rockies.
"Yeah," CarGo said, nodding at the thought of it. "It’s nice to have him back on my side."