PHOENIX -- Brewers left-hander Manny Parra had a working Thanksgiving holiday in the Dominican Republic, jump-starting his bid to rebound from a 2011 season lost to injuries.Parra spent three weeks in late November and early December at the team's new Dominican academy , which had opened only weeks earlier and was hosting an instructional league. The trip allowed Parra, recovering from elbow surgery, to pitch in a pair of games. "I knew if there was any opportunity to pitch, I needed to take it," Parra said. The idea was floated by Brewers farm director Reid Nichols, who was part of the team that struck an agreement with former Brewers closer Salomon Torres to re-christen the academy in November. It was previously occupied by the Rangers. The facility includes baseball fields, along with housing and classroom space for Latin American prospects. "It was there, and he needed to throw innings," Nichols said. "The good thing was there was no commitment from a [Winter League] club required. You didn't have to talk a club into taking him for a little bit down there."
Parra, incidentally, was at the academy on the morning Brewers pitching prospect Santo Manzanillo was injured in an auto accident.Now, Parra and Manzanillo are both healthy participants in camp, and Parra is aiming to keep it that way. He was hampered by a back injury in 2011 Spring Training, then sprained his elbow during a rehab assignment. Parra avoided a Tommy John ligament replacement surgery, but he did undergo a procedure in late August to remove some bone spurs from the joint. Originally, doctors believed they would also have to remove an old screw from a previous surgery. On further inspection, that was not necessary. The procedure made a big difference. Before, Parra couldn't throw a chest pass without a shooting pain in his elbow. Now, he's already throwing bullpens, including a session Monday that was monitored very closely by Brewers manager Ron Roenicke. "It's nice and free," Roenicke said. "He feels healthy. That's important. When you're out all year, that's tough." Parra hopes to avoid a repeat. "Last year was hip surgery, back, elbow, then something else in the elbow," Parra said. "It was just one of those years."
Roenicke: Weeks will adapt to stiff ankle
PHOENIX -- Based on his own experience with a major ankle injury, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was not surprised to hear second baseman Rickie Weeks say several weeks ago that he feels short of 100 percent.Weeks suffered a severely sprained left ankle in late July while stretching for first base, reminiscent of Roenicke's injury during the final week of the 1981 season, when the Milwaukee skipper was a Dodgers rookie. The injury cost Roenicke a chance to play in the World Series. "I'm not planning on reining [Weeks] back at all unless something comes up with it, but just personal experience, I tore up an ankle like he did and it really never is the same," Roenicke said. "Now, does that change the way you play? No. But you never have the same flexion you did before, you feel it more often. It's almost like a guy aging a little bit and he may be a bit slower -- I'm not saying Rickie will be -- but any time you sprain an ankle that bad, it's never the same." Weeks was able to return to action late last season and played in the postseason at less than 100 percent. Roenicke expects him to be a full participant beginning with the first full-squad workout on Saturday. "I don't expect it to slow him down at all," Roenicke said.
Young arms aplenty in Brewers camp
PHOENIX -- The Brewers' Spring Training camp is stocked with pitching prospects, and manager Ron Roenicke is so far impressed.Among the promising arms in camp who fit into the "prospect" category are consensus top prospect Wily Peralta, plus Tyler Thornburg, Mike Fiers, Santo Manzanillo, Dan Meadows, Cody Scarpetta and 2011 first-round Draft picks Jed Bradley and Taylor Jungmann. Peralta, Manzanillo, Scarpetta, Bradley and Jungmann all fit the criteria on which the Brewers have focused in recent years: tall, large-framed power pitchers. "We've got some nice arms," Roenicke said. "If everybody develops the way we think they are going to, we should have a pretty exciting group coming up." By Wednesday, Roenicke had seen all of those prospects throw a bullpen session. Bradley (groin) and Scarpetta (dental issue) were the last to throw on Wednesday. Roenicke made clear on the first day of pitchers and catchers workouts that he wanted the team's pitchers -- particularly the prospects -- to dial back in the early days of camp. That can be easier said than done for a young arm trying to make an impression on a club, though. "You kind of want to show them what you've got, but it's really early and you can't risk blowing it out right now," Thornburg said.
Brewers made run at veteran Renteria
PHOENIX -- Veteran infielder Edgar Renteria is considering retirement after spurning a pair of Minor League offers, his agent told FoxSports.com on Wednesday. Brewers GM Doug Melvin said one of those offers came from Milwaukee.Milwaukee is relatively thin at shortstop, with free agent pickup Alex Gonzalez expected to start and non-roster invitee Cesar Izturis the most likely backup. Two other shortstops in camp, Edwin Maysonet and Jeff Bianchi, are likely to begin the season in the Minors. "I don't blame [Renteria] for saying no," Melvin said. "He was a World Series MVP two years ago." Renteria won that honor with the Giants in his third trip to the World Series. He delivered the winning hit in Game 7 of the 1997 Series for the Marlins -- scoring current Brewers staffer Craig Counsell -- and also made the Fall Classic with the 2004 Cardinals. Agent Barry Meister said Renteria, 35, would wait to formally file retirement papers in case a solid offer came along. He is a five-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glover.
Brewers officials sought to add one more veteran pitcher to the list of non-roster invitees but could not get anyone to bite because so many of Milwaukee's spots are already filled. Options like Jamey Wright, Chad Durbin, Micah Owings and Clay Hensley saw better opportunities elsewhere.
In addition to the Brewers' five returning starting pitchers, Roenicke said Marco Estrada, Mike Fiers and Wily Peralta would be "stretched out" in camp in case someone has a setback.
The first sickness of the spring belonged to lefty Zach Braddock, who was sent home early Wednesday with a stomach virus.
Outfielder Norichika Aoki will take part in a morning press conference at Maryvale Baseball Park on Thursday, a busy day for the Japanese media. A few hours later, the Rangers will introduce Yu Darvish at Surprise Stadium.