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Parnell eases into closer role

The Sports Xchange
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Bobby Parnell had recorded a save once in his career, a three-inning mop-up job in 2009 for the Mets.

But he knows it is different now, when he is expected to prove over the final weeks of the regular season that he is up to inheriting the Mets vacant closer job. So there was something special about it when he recorded a real save, pitching the ninth inning against the Phillies Wednesday.

When the Mets traded Francisco Rodriguez to rid themselves of the odious vesting option on Rodriguez's contract, it left Parnell as the closer-in-waiting. Jason Isringhausen took the job immediately as the 38-year-old veteran made his way to 300 career saves. But now Isringhausen has moved to his real job -- helping guide Parnell to handle the task.

"Ever since Frankie got traded, I've been hoping for an opportunity to do this," Parnell said. "I kind of have been putting pressure on myself. And it just accumulated today. Luckily, everything went good. Hopefully it goes away a little bit, gets easier."

It wasn't exactly easy Wednesday. Staked to a three-run lead when he came in, he walked a pair of Phillies -- a four-pitch leadoff walk to Chase Utley -- around strikeouts of Ryan Howard and John Mayberry Jr. But with the tying run at the plate, he got a groundout to end the game and record what he considered his first real save.

"The walks were just nerves, I guess," Parnell said. "I felt like I was throwing it right down the middle, but I obviously didn't. They'll go away as time goes on."

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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