MILWAUKEE For the Brewers, 2011 was one of the most memorable seasons in franchise history.
For Manny Parra, it was nothing short of a disaster.
The left-hander was plagued by injury from the start of spring training and after a couple of minor league attempts, finally saw his season end with elbow surgery. While his teammates celebrated a division title, Parra recovered and rehabbed and hoped he'd be ready to go when camp opened at Maryvale this spring.
"I've been waiting for this for a year," Parra said. "Last summer I kept fighting all the way up until September to try and get back with the team, and then, when I went out and threw and my elbow still hurt and we had to have surgery, that's when I finally realized I wasn't going to be able to be back with the team last year. But I didn't give up, so I've been waiting on this for a long time."
Watching from home was tough.
"You love to be part of that energy," Parra said. "And talking to some of the guys, you just knew that everyone was having fun. The coaching staff, everybody was getting along really well, and I wanted to be a part of it."
Parra, 29, was the Brewers' 26th round selection in the 2001 MLB draft and once one of the organization's top prospects. He made his debut in 2007, posting an 0-1 record in nine appearances and appeared to be a long-term fixture in the rotation after a 10-8 campaign in 2008.
Parra struggled in 2009, going 11-11 with a 6.36 ERA and saw his record fall to 3-10 a year later, when he was moved into the bullpen. As a reliever, though, Parra performed well and figured to play a key role last year before being bitten by the injury bug.
Now he's healthy and ready to get back to work and again be a part of the fun on the field.
"I've been through enough injuries," Parra said. "You always get a little bit more perspective each time. But to miss a whole year -- that was the first time for that. And to have all the different injuries that kicked in, it was just a little overwhelming. But you learn that it's a privilege to play this game. I mean, it's as simple as: It's a privilege to play catch. You know, your arm doesn't like it sometimes, and so it's just a challenge to do that.
"I'm healthy right now . . . I'm good to go."
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