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03/29/12 4:38 PM ET

Parra appears good bet for Brewers bullpen

PHOENIX -- Left-hander Manny Parra won't feel safe until he boards the Brewers' charter flight to Milwaukee, but by all appearances he has a good chance to start the season in the bullpen.

The Brewers essentially picked Parra on Thursday when they optioned another lefty, Zach Braddock, to Triple-A Nashville. At 29, Parra has embraced his rebirth as a reliever after making 110 starts for the Brewers from 2007-10.

"My delivery, I'm starting to finally feel happy with it after four years of working on it," Parra said. "That, and the mentality of, 'I'm just coming in for an inning.' It seems to be more natural for me, because I don't think about anything; I just go out and do it."

Parra, who missed all of 2011 with back and elbow injuries, was efficient in a scoreless inning of work against the D-backs on Wednesday. He has a .231 opponents' average in 6 2/3 Cactus League innings.

Parra and fellow bullpen contender Tim Dillard are out of Minor League options. The Brewers have two open spots, assuming swingman Marco Estrada isn't needed in the starting rotation.

"I don't want to say what we're doing, but Manny has showed us [he is] close to that guy they put in the bullpen a couple of years ago when he was so good," manager Ron Roenicke said. "We didn't have an opportunity to see that last year. [Pitching coach] Rick [Kranitz] and I wanted to see a lot of him, and I think we've seen enough of him now that we're comfortable with what he brings out there, coming off a really tough year for him."

Parra thrived after switching to reliever in 2010. He had a 2.39 ERA in 26 appearances after the move.

"I'm happy with the way I'm throwing, and if it's not enough, it's not enough," Parra said.

Izturis makes the cut; final spots up for grabs

PHOENIX -- The Brewers informed veteran infielder Cesar Izturis on Thursday that he has made the team, further winnowing the openings on Milwaukee's Opening Day roster.

With Izturis set as the backup shortstop, the Brewers have one (if right fielder Corey Hart is healthy on Opening Day), or two (if Hart opens on the disabled list) bench spots still up for grabs. Three non-roster invitees are in the mix: Brooks Conrad, Travis Ishikawa and Edwin Maysonet.

Conrad may be the most versatile player in the group, and, like Izturis, is a switch-hitter. Ishikawa is by far the best defender at first base, where the Brewers are starting the relatively unproven Mat Gamel and may want an experienced back-up. Maysonet is a right-handed hitter and a shortstop, but his chances were probably diminished when Izturis made the cut.

Club officials met Thursday morning to discuss various scenarios. Manager Ron Roenicke characterized the final bench decision a tough call.

"I don't want to go by Spring Training [statistics], but it's what we see," Roencike said. "[The Brewers are weighing] what kind of skill set the guy has, how they fit on our bench and what can come up during the season that you feel is the most important thing that you get from that bench player. ...

"We're trying to look at all these things, and these guys are all pretty versatile. Those spots are important."

Izturis, an 11-year Major League veteran, would have been due a $100,000 bonus if the Brewers did not add him to the 40-man roster by Friday. That clause was built into baseball's new collective bargaining agreement for players coming off Major League contracts, and with at least six years of service time, who sign Minor League deals.

Izturis will earn $875,000 in the Majors, with potentially another $375,000 in incentives for games played and starts.

Whether one additional bench job is available or two depends on Hart, who is working back from knee surgery. He batted in a Triple-A game for the second straight day Thursday and was 0-for-2 with a pair of walks.

Hart will play about three innings in the outfield for the first time Friday, and club officials will have a better idea about his status on Sunday evening, Roenicke said. Triple-A Nashville breaks camp Monday, and Hart could travel with the Sounds to open the season in New Orleans. But Hart has not officially been ruled out for the Brewers' Opening Day roster.

"We talked about it today, and we're going to look at what he does the last couple of days; Saturday, Sunday," Roenicke said. "If he's close enough, maybe we put him in one of our [Cactus League] games. But it's taking a chance; I don't know if we're going to want to do that."

Playing Hart in a Spring Training "A" game would eliminate the option of a backdated stint on the 15-day disabled list.

Brewers lose Wheeler to waivers, Kintzler to DL

PHOENIX -- The Orioles claimed 25-year-old infielder Zelous Wheeler off waivers Thursday amid a busy day of Brewers roster moves.

Besides losing Wheeler, the Brewers optioned reliever Zach Braddock, infielder Taylor Green and catcher Martin Maldonado to Triple-A Nashville. They also placed right-handed reliever Brandon Kintzler on the disabled list with the right elbow inflammation that derailed his Spring Training.

The DL move was expected, and Kintzler will report to Minor League camp on Friday to continue a throwing program. He said he is already ahead of schedule after throwing a successful first bullpen session on Tuesday.

In waiving Wheeler, a popular prospect, the Brewers were freeing space on the 40-man roster for non-roster invitees expected to make the club. One such player, shortstop Cesar Izturis, was informed Thursday that he had made the cut. Wheeler, 25, is a .271 hitter with a .371 on-base percentage in five Minor League seasons. He's primarily a third baseman but has also played shortstop, second base and left field, and dabbled in catching during down time in last year's Arizona Fall League.

Milwaukee has 29 players remaining in big league camp and 38 players, counting Izturis, on the 40-man roster. One 40-man spot is earmarked for pitcher Mark Rogers, who must be re-added when his suspension expires in early April.

Last call

• Catcher, and Racine, Wis. native, Jason Jaramillo signed a Minor League contract with the Brewers on Thursday, days after the Cubs released him. Jaramillo spent parts of the past three seasons with the Pirates and is likely to start at Double-A Huntsville.

• The Brewers announced they had released outfielder Corey Patterson on Tuesday and re-signed him Thursday, a procedural move to avoid paying Patterson a $100,000 bonus built into the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Patterson should start in the Triple-A Nashville outfield with prospects Logan Schafer and Caleb Gindl, with another Major League veteran, Jay Gibbons, also in the mix.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.