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Parra confounds even himself with year-long inconsistency

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McClatchy Tribune
October 2, 2009
— Standing in a nearly empty dugout about an hour before the game, Ken Macha raved about Manny Parra’s raw, natural ability.

The manager of the Milwaukee Brewers praised the Parra for what seems to be limitless potential and an arm and frame capable of supporting his rise.


Then again, the question with Parra, the left-hander the Brewers were counting on to make a huge leap forward this season, has never been his physical capabilities.


It’s always been his head and how he has dealt with pressure.


After having a solid September despite missing three starts, Parra wrestled with himself in his final outing and left without making it through the third inning. The poor start helped the Colorado Rockies clinch the National League wild card berth with a 9-2 victory to complete a sweep of the Brewers on Thursday afternoon at Coors Field.


The loss also assured the Brewers will not finish .500 after finishing above the mark the previous two seasons.


Parra lasted 2 2/3 innings and allowed five runs allowed on six hits and five walks. He also struck out five.


“It didn’t go the way I wanted it to go,” Parra said with a smirk. “I had good stuff. I felt good. I just completely lost command.”


As was the problem a season ago, Parra can seem to be cruising. But he seems to eventually meltdown, and the runs come in bunches.


“If we get his mind focused on stuff, he’s physically able to go (into the seventh inning) more than anybody we have,” Macha said before the game. “He’s cleaned up his delivery and I think he’s physically able to handle a workload of 115 pitches every time out.”


Macha, of course, was scattering those pitches across approximately seven innings in his mind. But Parra used 91 and never made it to the fourth Thursday.


He gave up a run in the first after three consecutive two-out singles.


After getting through the second, Parra allowed a single, walked a guy, another single to Troy Tulowitzki to score a run and a double by Garrett Atkins to score another.


Parra intentionally walked Chris Iannetta to load the bases before gathering himself long enough to strikeout Brad Hawpe and Clint Barmes.


Then he lost it again, walking pitcher Aaron Cook, for the second time in the game, to score a run and walking Dexter Fowler to score another before Macha pulled the plug on his day.


Parra said the walks to the pitcher “drove me nuts,” and Macha said watching that was “frustrating from my side.”


“It’s a mystery to me,” Macha said. “He strikes the first two hitters out then he winds up with 30-something pitches in the first. Second inning, he gets the first two hitters, walks the pitcher. Third inning, strikes out Hawpe, strikes out Barmes, walks the pitcher.


“That’s the ying and the yang. He was overpowering. Struck out the first two hitters and with the bases loaded punches two guys out. But he walks the pitcher.”


Coming out of spring training, the Brewers wanted Parra to make the leap from kid with potential to legitimate front-line starter, but that hope was dashed when Parra started 0-4 with a 6.53 earned-run average in four April starts.


Parra struggled through May before he was sent down to Class AAA Nashville. He was a little better when he returned, but the start that Macha thought could have changed his season came Aug. 3 at Los Angeles.


Parra rolled for eight innings, allowing two runs, but hit a snag in the ninth, giving up three before being taken out so the team could hang on for a one-run victory as Parra was denied his first career complete game.


“If he would have finished that game, it would have been a huge lift for him,” Macha said.


Parra picked up five more wins after that game, but he was the beneficiary of 52 runs in those victories as his ERA rose above 7.00 in August before he started getting right in September.


Still, he ended with a forgettable finale.


“It comes down to consistency,” Parra said before adding, “It comes down to fastball command. You don’t have to have the best stuff to get outs if you command the ball. I understand that.


“It’s a process I have to continue working on.”



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