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Parker knows stakes are high for 'pen candidates

Parker knows stakes are high for 'pen candidates

MESA, Ariz. -- Blake Parker knows it doesn't matter what he did last year, or the year before. The right-hander is fighting for a spot in the Cubs' bullpen, and he's not alone.

"There's tons of guys here," the reliever said, glancing around the Cubs' clubhouse on Sunday. "You look around and you start putting yourself in places, and there's a lot of competition in this locker room. There's some unbelievable pitchers. [Arodys] Vizcaino is coming back from an injury, and I saw him the other day and he's unbelievable to watch.

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"It's good for the team that you have a lot of competition. It only makes you better."

But Parker has been a little inconsistent. In his first outing, he cruised through one inning of work. In his next two, he gave up five hits and walked four over 1 1/3 innings. The problems, the right-hander said, are mechanical and mental issues.

"I felt like my last outing, I had a strong start," he said of his relief appearance Friday. "I got a strikeout, and got 0-2 and threw a bad pitch and gave up a hit, and another hit, and kind of got away from attacking guys and got a little timid out there, which is what I meant by the [mental issues]. From that, [I tried] to make the perfect pitch, and my mechanics started to get out of whack, and then it spiraled downhill.

"It's time for me to get it going and really focus on the things I need to focus on and get after it and work on the things I need to work on so I'm ready when the season starts."

Parker is competing for a spot in the bullpen with right-handers Vizcaino, Hector Rondon, Justin Grimm, Neil Ramirez, Alberto Cabrera, Pedro Strop and Carlos Villanueva.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"event":["prospect" ,"spring_training" ] }
{"event":["prospect" ,"spring_training" ] }