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Parker enjoying luxury of having proved himself

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PHOENIX -- At this time last year, numbers meant everything to Jarrod Parker. A starting job with the A's was dependent on them, and he was demoted before camp ended when he didn't produce good ones.

This spring, Parker again isn't posting numbers that reflect his talent, with a 10.00 ERA through three starts, but unlike last year, it really doesn't matter.

That's a luxury enjoyed only by proven players, and Parker is already among that company at age 24, after he responded to an April 25 callup by posting 13 wins with a 3.47 ERA and leading the A's into the postseason with a Game 1 start against the Tigers last year.

"Based on what he accomplished last year," said manager Bob Melvin, "he's not evaluated on numbers like some other guys are."

"That's really big for me," said Parker. "I don't know if I've ever had a great spring, so I don't want to fall into that routine, but it's great to be able to work on things and not feel like every time out is a test and you're trying to make the team."

In his most recent outing, against the White Sox on Saturday, Parker was tagged for seven runs (five earned) on nine hits in three-plus innings, striking out three but also walking two. Five days earlier he'd given up five runs on six hits in four frames.

But Parker is more concerned about the "day after" results -- how his body responds to a continually increasing workload. So the fact that he went to the field on Sunday feeling "real strong" provided him a good deal of confidence in the progress he's making.

"Obviously, things aren't going well results-wise, but I feel good, and my stuff is coming around," he said. "I think I'd be a little worried if everything was right right now and there wasn't something to work toward, so I think I'm progressing in a way I'm happy with.

"I think, at this point, there's a lot of tired arms and a lot of aches, and to just come out today and feel good and get my work in and feel fresh is a good sign. I feel great."

Parker admits that when it comes to his pitches, he's slightly behind with his two-seamer to the glove side. But that's usually the last to come anyway, and he has two more Cactus League starts to sharpen it before he makes his 2013 debut on April 2, against the Mariners.

"That's what we're here for," he said. "These last two, I'll really be able to concentrate on that pitch and put the finishing touches on everything else."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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