GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The most important outing of Manny Parra's spring, a "breakthrough," as he called it, doesn't even appear in the record books.
Parra pitched a 1-2-3 fourth inning against a split squad of Rangers on Sunday at Maryvale Baseball Park just before a blanket of rain sent both teams running for the clubhouses. The game, and its Cactus League statistics, were washed out.
But don't tell Parra the outing didn't count.
"I hope that outing was a breakthrough for me, because I wasn't trying to light up the radar gun or anything," the left-handed Brewers bullpen hopeful said. "I was just letting my two-seamer work. I got three ground balls and was out of there. That's what I was hoping to do."
Parra is coming back from a 2011 season lost to a sprained elbow. He's long pitched as a power left-hander, capable of hitting 94-95 mph with his four-seam fastball, but Sunday, pitching against a tough Texas lineup with a stiff wind blowing out, marked a shift in mindset.
"Definitely," he said. "I've been trying to do that for a long time, and this was the first time I did it. I wasn't trying to get a fastball by a guy. I was locating it and letting it move.
"I know they were trying to get the ball in the air and they couldn't do it. That's what made me feel so good." Parra has allowed two runs in six official Cactus League innings so far. He was scheduled to throw on the side Tuesday and will pitch as many as three innings in a Minor League game on Thursday's off-day.
He is among a dwindling group of bullpen candidates. Others include left-hander Zack Braddock, who remained sidelined Tuesday by a high-right hamstring strain, and right-handers Tim Dillard and Mike McClendon.
"I know 95 [mph] is still there if I need it," Parra said, "but that might not be the best thing for me. Just raring back and throwing it, that doesn't always work."
Braun scratched due to groin tightness
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun was supposed to play back-to-back games for the first time this spring. Instead he was scratched about an hour before Tuesday's game against the Dodgers because of groin tightness.
The injury has quietly bothered Braun for weeks, manager Ron Roenicke said.
"He's had it, but he's been able to play with it," Roenicke said. "He hasn't been running, and that's why. It's something that's aggravated him. ... Hopefully, we can get rid of it."
Braun will sit again on Wednesday, when the Brewers face the D-backs, and the entire team is off on Thursday. That means Braun won't play before Friday's home game against the Angels, two weeks before the Brewers' regular-season opener.
Braun is 1-for-17 so far this spring with a home run.
Veras fills vital hole in Brewers' bullpen
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Brewers like what they have seen from Jose Veras, the gargantuan right-hander expected to be the team's regular seventh-inning man this season.
That role was filled capably during the second half of 2012 by veterans LaTroy Hawkins and Takashi Saito, but both left via free agency. So the Brewers traded third baseman Casey McGehee, expendable after the team signed Aramis Ramirez, to the Pirates for Veras, who had served as Pittsburgh's 6-foot-6 setup man.
"I think he's going to be a big addition to our bullpen," Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. "When he's down in the zone, he's going to be really good."
Veras' fastball averaged 94.1 mph last season, according to the website FanGraphs.com, and he made a big change by throwing curveballs for 40 percent of his pitches, up from 27-28 percent in the previous two seasons. Most late-inning relievers rely on sliders for their breaking ball, but the curve was a big pitch for Veras.
"For right-handed batters, it starts right at them and they freeze," Roenicke said.
Veras got a taste of a regular-season situation in Monday's win over the Rangers. After the Brewers scored three times in the sixth inning to grab a 4-3 lead, Veras relieved Randy Wolf with nobody out and runners at first and second base, and he escaped unscathed.
Veras struck out Mitch Moreland and jammed Ian Kinsler for a flyout to left field. After an infield single loaded the bases, Veras retired Josh Hamilton on a groundout.
"We know what we have in the eighth and ninth," Roenicke said, referring to returning relievers Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford. "But you still have to get to the eighth and ninth. To have Veras there and Kameron [Loe] there when we need him, it's really important."
• Right fielder Corey Hart took full batting practice on the field for the second straight day and added some outfield drills on Tuesday, another good sign of progress in his recovery from right-knee surgery. Hart had said he's targeting Friday to begin playing Minor League games, but Roenicke put the brakes on any any predictions.
"There's no plan as to when he's going to be in a ballgame, even though he tells you there's going to be a plan, there's no plan in place," Roenicke said. "The trainers will decide when he's ready to play in a game."
• Right-hander Shaun Marcum, slowed by a stiff right shoulder, will take his next step on Wednesday when he throws two innings or 30 pitches in a Minor League game. The Triple-A Nashville Sounds host the Reds' top affiliate at Maryvale Baseball Park at 3 p.m. CT.
• Roenicke was not sure when Zack Braddock would get in a game. The leg issue popped up Monday, prompting the Brewers to scratch Braddock from a scheduled appearance against the Rangers. The Brewers may decide to let Braddock rest until the team returns Friday from its final spring off-day.
• Setup man Francisco Rodriguez struck out four in a two-inning appearance in Minor League camp Tuesday. Rodriguez had asked for a multi-inning stint, Roenicke said, and it was easier to slot him into the Minors than the Brewers "A" game against the Dodgers.