MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers' final homestand of the season could mark the end of the road for pitching prospect Josh Butler. Assuming Manny Parra makes it through his return to the starting rotation Friday without a recurrence of the neck stiffness that sidelined him nearly two weeks, the team may send Butler home before the start of the Brewers' season-ending road trip next week. It would allow Butler a break before he begins play in the Arizona Fall League. "We haven't made that decision," general manager Doug Melvin said. "We haven't talked to him."
Butler's fate could hinge on Parra, who hasn't pitched since Sept. 8 because of a stiff neck. Parra is healthy again and slated to start Friday in the spot vacated by right-hander Yovani Gallardo, who has been shut down for the season. Butler was a candidate to make that start if Parra's neck didn't improve. Instead, Butler debuted Tuesday night in the Brewers' lopsided, 10-2 loss to the Cubs. He was charged with two runs on two hits and two walks in two innings. He struck out a batter, hit another with a pitch and threw one wild pitch. But Butler did practice some damage control. He loaded the bases with nobody out in his second inning of work but escaped with only one run in the inning. "I thought he held his composure well," Melvin said. Butler would have preferred a few more zeros in his pitching line, but he was pleased to debut. "It was everything I thought it would be," the 23-year-old Californian said. "I felt a little rusty, like I hadn't been out there for a while. But I got myself in trouble and I got out of it with one run, and that was good. Sometimes you have to take that one run and minimize the damage." Butler isn't sure of the next step. He's had conversations with club officials about remaining with the Brewers through the Oct. 4 finale, then taking a week to 10 days off before reporting to Phoenix for the start of the Fall League on Oct. 13. Now, with Parra back in the fold, that plan may change. "[Melvin] said he wanted to see Butler in there, so he had a chance to see him yesterday," manager Ken Macha said on Tuesday afternoon. "I like Butler's stuff. He's got a sinking fastball that gets in the 90s. He has a very good changeup. He's got some definition on his curveball. He's got some things to work with."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.