MILWAUKEE -- Manny Parra is healthy again, and he's returning to the Brewers' starting rotation. Parra, who hasn't pitched since exiting a Sept. 8 outing against the Cardinals after one inning because of a stiff neck, is slated to start Friday against the Phillies. The left-hander will take the spot vacated by Yovani Gallardo, who was shut down by the Brewers as a precaution against overwork. "I'm excited," Parra said. "It's not so much relief, because I knew [the neck] was going to get better, although for a minute there I didn't know how long it was going to take. I almost feel re-energized. I feel real fresh, and hopefully I'll finish strong."
Assuming he gets through Friday's game without a setback, Parra would be in line for one more start on Sept. 30 or Oct. 1 in Colorado, depending on how manager Ken Macha chooses to use Monday's off-day. Parra is 10-10 this season despite a 6.42 ERA, the highest ERA in the National League for a pitcher with at least 80 innings of work. His season included a three-week demotion to Triple-A Nashville. "I want to finish off strong because I know I'm better than I've pitched this year," Parra said. First, he had to get healthy. Parra didn't think he would miss his next start after exiting early against the Cardinals, but fellow left-hander Chris Narveson will make a third start in Parra's place on Wednesday against the Cubs. When Parra's neck stiffness didn't subside, the Brewers sent him home from a road trip last week for an MRI scan seeking answers. It didn't reveal any, but Parra noticed dramatic improvement beginning Friday, when the Brewers returned to Miller Park for their final homestand. By Tuesday, when Parra threw his final side session in preparation for his start against the Phillies, he was "100 percent healthy." He even took batting practice with the rest of the starters. "It's completely out of my mind," he said. Will two starts be enough for Parra to feel good entering the offseason? "I hope so," Macha said. "I'm just glad that he's able to come back to pitch." Parra's status may prompt the Brewers to send righty prospect Josh Butler home early. Butler made his Major League debut in relief on Tuesday night and was a candidate to take Gallardo's spot in the rotation, but instead he may depart when the Brewers finish their homestand on Sunday. That would give Butler a healthy break before he reports for duty in the Arizona Fall League. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said he would make sure Parra made it through Friday's outing before making a decision about Butler.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.