MIAMI -- The Brewers sent Dave Bush to Triple-A Nashville last season when he was struggling, but currently have no plans to make a similar move with left-hander Manny Parra, general manager Doug Melvin said Wednesday. "We haven't thought about that at all," Melvin said. Parra set career highs in allowing 10 runs and 11 hits in Tuesday's 10-3 loss to the Marlins, his second poor outing in three starts. Eleven days earlier, he was charged with eight earned runs and eight hits in just 3 1/3 innings at Minnesota.
Parra fell to 3-7 with his third straight loss. He leads the National League in losses and walks (36), and he is tied with Florida's Ricky Nolasco for the NL lead with 46 runs allowed. Through Tuesday, the Brewers were 3-8 with Parra on the mound and 27-14 behind the other four starters. "Our focus is to get him better," Melvin said. "This is a guy who won 10 games last year. He's struggling now. Can he get better? Obviously, it wasn't pretty last night." Pitching coach Bill Castro sat down with Parra for a chat on Wednesday, according to manager Ken Macha, who said he would have his own chat as early as Thursday. Parra's next scheduled start is Sunday in Atlanta. Macha believes that Parra's problems begin with runners on base. The manager would like to see Parra employ a slide-step to help limit the running game and conceded there is a difference of opinion on that point. Parra prefers to lift his front leg in his delivery to the plate. Another option, Macha said, is to eliminate one of the pitches in Parra's arsenal. On Tuesday, he threw fastballs, split-fingered fastballs, curveballs and changeups. The "split" is a key strikeout pitch for Parra, who likes to spike it in the dirt to induce swings and misses. Two got away from catcher Jason Kendall in the third inning, including one that allowed a run to score. "Say if you took his split away, he would be fastball, changeup, curveball. There are a lot of pitchers that pitch that way," Macha said. "Johan Santana [of the Mets] is one." The Phillies' Cole Hamels is another. "Maybe you're focused more on the other [pitches] then," Macha said. "But, both of those guys command the fastball extremely well. ... If you're going to be a winning Major League pitcher, you're going to have to command your fastball, and for me, as a starter, you have to have two offspeed pitches. You have to be able to throw an offspeed pitch over the plate when you're behind in the count. And you have to control the running game." Parra does have a Minor League option remaining, so the Brewers would have the right to send him down to work on changes. Last year, the team demoted Bush to Triple-A Nashville after he started the year 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA in four starts. After his outing on Tuesday, Parra owns the same ERA. But in hindsight, Melvin said that he wonders whether the team did the right thing in demoting Bush. It proved a moot point, because the Brewers were forced to recall Bush after one Triple-A start to replace the injured Yovani Gallardo. "When you struggle a little bit, you're bound to [lose confidence]," Melvin said. "It's no different than a hitter who hasn't drive in some runs in a while. Corey Hart had a bad month of May. The tough part about it is, the hitter gets to go back in the lineup the next day. "With a pitcher, you can't just stop them and say, 'You're not pitching anymore,' because then how do you get better? You can go to Triple-A; that's always an option." But not an option the Brewers are considering for Parra. "That's our job, to make sure he doesn't [lose confidence]," Melvin said. "If you send him to Triple-A now, you could totally lose him."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.