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Mets pitcher Bobby Parnell dishes on his career

Kidsday reporters Colin DeLay, Lucas Schmuck, Sklyar Goldberg

Kidsday reporters Colin DeLay, Lucas Schmuck, Sklyar Goldberg and KC DeSarno, all from North Side Elementary School in East Williston, with Mets relief pitcher Bobby Parnell in the Mets locker room at CitiField on Jan. 24, 2014. Credit: Newsday / Pat Mullooly

We met NY Mets pitcher Bobby Parnell in the Mets locker room at Citi Field recently. We wish him a speedy recovery from his elbow injury.

Would you like to stay with the Mets for your whole career?

I would. I enjoy it here a lot. I've grown fond of it. I know a lot of faces, a lot of people here. I can see myself here for a long time.

What is your favorite pitch?

Well, I like to throw a fastball. I'm starting to get fond of my curve ball, too. It's a fun pitch, it makes some hitters look silly sometimes.

Who is the toughest hitter you have ever faced?

My whole career? I've faced [Albert] Pujols several years ago, and it was when I was first coming up, and I'd face him every year in spring training, and I could not get the guy out. I'd get two strikes on him easy, I could never strike him out. I think he was probably one of the toughest hitters I've faced.

Do you like being a pitcher?

I love being a pitcher. I especially like being a relief pitcher. I get to pitch every day. I get to play every day. There's no days off like a starting pitcher.

What part of the game do you want to improve?

I want to improve it all. I'd love to throw more strikes. I think that's a big part of the game, throwing strikes, not giving up walks, giving up free bases.

What was your favorite baseball team when you were a kid?

As much as I would like to say the Mets, I grew up in North Carolina and the only team that was on TV in my area was the Atlanta Braves. Division rivals. So I had to watch them, root for them when I was young, but as soon as I got drafted . . . hands down, the Mets.

Do you have any baseball superstitions?

I don't think there's a baseball player that doesn't have a baseball superstition. If I do well one day, the next day I'll eat the same thing, I'll do the same routine. If I do well, I try to do the same thing the next day until it stops working.

When they call you in to close out a game, do you get nervous?

Yeah, I still get butterflies. I've learned to control it. It's definitely a hair-raising experience. You get goose bumps and tingly and ready to go. I think if you lose that, it's time to retire. If you don't get nervous, and you don't get the goose bumps, you're not feeling it.

Do you guys have team dinners?

We do. Obviously night games and stuff like that, we have dinner here in the clubhouse. There's a kitchen in the back -- we have a great cook and they treat us well. On days we travel during the day and stuff, we get together as groups, as many people as possible. We go to a dinner and just hang out and have fun.

Does your arm hurt after games?

No. I've been fortunate I haven't had any arm injuries, been very healthy, considering my arm. There were times when your arm gets sore, especially throwing 162 games, but to say it's sore or hurts, no, not really. I've conditioned myself well to be able to kind of work through that kind of stuff.

What is it like to play in a big city like New York?

Well, the good thing is, if you're winning, the fans are behind you, but if you're not, they're going to let you know, and that's good too, because they push you. I'm fortunate enough where I've been here a long time and I'm starting to get recognized whenever I'm out on the streets, and that's a cool feeling. There's a lot of people out here pulling for us.

How do you handle having a bad day on the mound?

You got to be able to forget it quickly. The good thing about baseball is, tomorrow's another game. More than likely, you're going to be out there pitching a game, playing again, so you have to forget it very quickly, and sometimes that's tough to do. You go home, I got my wife, my dog, and you have to just go home, relax and enjoy your family for the night and come home and wake up the next day, forget it all happened yesterday.

How does your neck feel now after your injury?

I have no problems with my neck now. I feel like I had a great surgery, a very successful surgery. I feel like I'm healthy and ready to go for the year.

What has been your favorite moment in your baseball career?

Obviously the first day getting dressed after having a dream come true. That has to be the favorite by far just to be able to have the opportunity to play baseball the rest of my life.

What is the funniest moment in your baseball career?

I don't have one that really stands out. A lot of guys in here get a group of guys, you get 25 baseball players together and there's a lot of jokes being told in the clubhouse. So I sit right over here in my locker and just listen to everybody talking. Just a day in and day out fun time in the clubhouse. A lot of jokes.

Who do you admire in baseball history?

There's tons of people to admire. You got your Roberto Clemente, obviously, in the Mets you got Tom Seaver, Sandy Koufax, lots of great pitchers that I kind of relate to. Reggie Jackson, guys like that. Guys that have paved the way for us to be able to play this game. There's tons of names out there that you could say I admire.

Do you like playing at Citi Field or Shea Stadium?,

Shea Stadium. I got to play there for a month and it had a lot of great history. Like I said before -- Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver, all them guys. You saw them walking through the clubhouse and that's where the history is. I enjoy Citi Field. I feel like the teams that have been here in the last few years have really made this place a great place, the design of the stadium, it's immaculate. You go to other fields this is one of the nicer fields in the league and I think they did a really good job. I feel like Citi Field has a lot to offer and I look forward to making some history in it.

Who taught you how to play baseball?

I've had a lot of good coaches throughout my career. But my Dad is the one that really stuck with me when I was little. He would always take me to the baseball field. He would always throw me pitches to hit and catch me on the throw. I have to give a lot of credit to him.

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