TEMPE, Ariz. After spending just a half-season in Milwaukee, veteran infielder Jerry Hairston, Jr. was hoping to stick around for a little while. Traded to the Brewers from Washington after Rickie Weeks was sidelined with a severely sprained ankle in July, Hairston hit .274 with 10 doubles in 45 regular season games.
He took over as the starting third baseman in the playoffs, replacing Casey McGehee, and was one of the team's top performers, batting .387 (15-for-39) in 11 games with six doubles and four RBI.
The Brewers had interest in retaining the 35-year-old, but, when the Los Angeles Dodgers came to the table with a two-year offer, Hairston opted to go west.
"I was talking with them," Hairston said Monday as his new team took on the Los Angeles Angels at Diablo Stadium. "There were talks about me going back there but I was looking for two years and they just weren't in a position to do that.
"Talking with LA and the things they want to do here, the direction we're going, I definitely want to be a part of it."
Hairston said there were issues during the negotiation process and that both sides walked away without any hard feelings.
"That's the great thing about it," Hairston said. "We were always honest with each other. We kept the lines of communication open. I knew where they stood and they knew where I stood, too. It's just the nature of the business."
He greatly enjoyed his time in Milwaukee, where he was able to experience postseason play for the second time in his 14-year career. He was part of a team that set a franchise record for victories and won its division for the first time in 29 years.Now with the Dodgers, Hairston said he still wishes his former teammates well as they try to build on their success in 2011."For me to come in there, midseason, they welcomed me with open arms from day one," Hairston said. "I felt like I'd been there five or six years. Great bunch of guys and I do miss them. I do. I wish them the best but it's definitely a great place to play."Parra impressing: During the winter, a finally-healthy Manny Parra said he felt like the Brewers coaching staff hardly knew him.He had missed almost all of last season battling back and elbow injuries, making just one appearance in spring training and never joining the big league club.Manager Ron Roenicke conceded that Parra was correct in his assessment."To make an evaluation on Manny from last year is impossible," Roenicke said. "We heard what he did the year before. We saw video of him from when they switched him from a starter to the bullpen and he was very successful He had good velocity, good stuff, but I never saw it."Until you see it out there on the field, you just go by what people tell you. It's important for him to be out there as much as we can see him."Parra appeared in one game with Class A Wisconsin and just seven games for Class AAA Nashville, posting an 0-1 record with a 6.10 ERA for the Sounds before being shut down to have a screw replaced in his elbow.The entire season was one of pain and frustration for Parra, a 26th-round draft pick in 2002 who seemed poised to make a name for himself as a starter after a 10-8 season with Milwaukee in 2008."I felt disabled at one point," Parra said. "The way my back was hurting last spring, to do some most basic things was really uncomfortable even just sitting. Once we got into the season, it seemed like it was managed well when I was in Nashville and then the elbow thing happened. It was one thing after another."And then sitting and watching the team do what they did as a fan it was very humbling."Parra has certainly gotten Roenicke's attention this spring. The 29-year-old left-hander has appeared in two games this spring, allowing two hits and a walk with four strikeouts in three innings of work.His velocity is back he's been throwing consistently in the 90-92 MPH range and Roencike thinks that will improve as spring progresses and his curveball is showing signs of what it was when Parra was an up-and-coming prospect in the Brewers' farm system."His performance the other day, the two innings were really good, so if we can keep getting him out there it helps us to evaluate him and figure out how he best fits into our bullpen," Roenicke said.The Gonzo effect: Can one player really make that much of a difference for a team's defense? Roenicke certainly thinks so."Look at what ( Rafael) Furcal did for the Cardinals last year," Roenicke said. "Amazing."He's hoping for a similar impact from shortstop Alex Gonzalez, signed over the winter to replace Yuniesky Betancourt. Though not much of an offensive threat, Gonzalez has long been considered one of the better defensive shortstops in the game and its hoped that his presence can bolster what has been a porous infield in recent seasons."He's smart, he's got great hands," Roenicke said. "I think with the positioning we'll help him out with, our defense should be better."Early impressions: Johnny Narron joined Roenicke's staff as hitting coach after Dale Sveum left to manage the Chicago Cubs. So far, things seem to be working out well."Our thinking is a lot on the same lines of what we believe you need to do as a hitter," Roenicke said. "Everybody's a little bit different, but there are certain things that help a guy as far as being able to make adjustments in the big leagues.""We've got these ideas that we want to give hitters more feedback on something positive, and Johnny's got something that he came over with from Texas that we're going to try to use a little bit."Narron spent four years working in the Brewers' minor league system from 2003-2006, managing the Rookie League Helena Brewers in 2004, before joining the Reds and later the Texas Rangers. His brother, Jerry, is the Brewers' bench coach. Cut day coming: With the season-opener a little more than a month away, Roenicke was asked if the first round of cuts would be coming soon.The skipper said no moves are coming in the near future as the Brewers will play several split-squad affairs over the course of the next week but he and the coaching staff have had discussions with some players about their future."We've got the split squads through the 16th, so we'll probably wait and just try and get us through those," Roenicke said. "Couple of guys we'll talk to before then, just to kind of give them a heads-up - guys that really don't have any chance of making our team that are here with us."On deck: The Brewers took Monday off and return to action Tuesday with split-squad action against the A's and Mariners. Right-hander Mike Fiers (0-0, 13.50 ERA) will start for the Brewers against Oakland at Phoenix Municipal Stadium and left-hander Randy Wolf gets the start at Maryvale Baseball Park against Seattle.
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