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.