Dave Bush did his part. Then it was Manny Parra’s turn.
Bush turned in five solid innings of work on Thursday afternoon in a “B” game against the Rangers on a side field at the Surprise Stadium complex. He allowed three hits and one earned run, walked one batter and hit another, and struck out five. Bush threw 67 pitches.
He worked the afternoon affair so the Brewers could see Parra pitch the regularly-scheduled “A” game against the Rangers Thursday night. In five innings, Parra was charged with five earned runs on six hits including a long Josh Hamilton home run. Parra struck out five and didn’t walk a batter.
“I actually threw the ball really well,” he said. “I threw the ball better today, execution-wise, than I did the last game and the one before that.”
Of Hamilton, Parra said, “He’s a beast. I rushed a little bit there, left a pitch over the middle and it was crushed. A lot of these [Rangers] guys, it seems like they’re all four hitters.”
The afternoon B game marked pitching coach Rick Peterson’s second opportunity to see Bush pitch. Bush and Parra have been working on the same day all spring and twice have appeared separately in split-squad affairs.
Both the right-handed Bush and the left-handed Parra have mostly pitched well this spring, and so has left-hander Chris Narveson. Assuming the Brewers keep righty Jeff Suppan as their fourth starter — which is not set in stone, club officials say, despite Suppan’s hefty salary — then the fifth starters’ spot could come down to Bush, Narveson or Parra.
Suppan is scheduled to pitch Friday against the Angels. Narveson’s next scheduled turn in the rotation is supposed to come Sunday, but the Brewers need to work out plans for another B game with the Rangers first.
Parra and Narveson are out of options and the Brewers would have to expose either player to waivers in order to assign him to the Minor Leagues. Bush has options, but he also has enough service time to refuse a demotion.
Somebody is going to be disappointed in the end.
“It’s a great problem to have,” Peterson said.
This might have been the last time Bush and Parra pitch on the same day. Peterson said that one could remain on an every-five-day schedule to work Tuesday against the Indians, and the other could take an extra day of rest and work a Minor League game on Wednesday, the big-league Brewers’ only off-day this spring.
“This can get strung out all the way to the last week of Spring Training,” Peterson said. “We have it set up so that everybody is going to get as much of a chance to pitch as much as they can possibly pitch before [decisions are rendered]. The key is that as long as these guys are doing well, you delay a decision as long as you possibly can.
“What you hope is that it’s a tie,” Peterson joked, “and they have to have a putt-off or shoot baskets.”
Would Parra like a better idea of how the competition will play out?
“It’s always nice to know what’s going to happen, but I didn’t feel any pressure out there,” he said. “I haven’t felt any pressure with any work I’ve done. I’ve worked my butt off and I understand I have something to prove, but at the same time I feel really good.”