In his first start after the Brewers sent him to the minor leagues, Manny Parra was throwing 84-87 mph and was so unimpressive that one person watching said, "They announced Manny Parra, but it sure didn't look like him."
But Parra rebounded well Tuesday night, going seven innings and allowing just one run for Nashville against an Albuquerque team that featured that other Manny (who, by the way, struck out and grounded out against Parra). The Brewers were encouraged enough that they now think Parra could rejoin their rotation within the next few weeks.
Brewers people hope Parra could follow the same path as Ricky Nolasco, the Marlins opening day starter who seemed to be helped by his two Triple-A starts. Nolasco, who had a 9.07 ERA when he was sent down, has a 2.50 ERA in three starts since returning, including a win at Fenway Park.
The Brewers have made it this far into the season using only five starting pitchers. That will change when Parra's spot comes up on Saturday (the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that Seth McClung is the leading candidate for that spot). The Brewers will also need to fill Dave Bush's spot, with Bush now on the disabled list.
While many people in baseball believe that the Nationals should give Mike Rizzo the full-time job as general manager, the team has continued to look at other options, and some people are saying that the Nats owners want "a big name." The Nationals contacted Gerry Hunsicker, the former Astros GM who now works for Tampa Bay, but it appears that he doesn't want the job.
One name that has circulated: Jed Hoyer, who now works as Theo Epstein's assistant in Boston.
Meanwhile, other teams are wondering how much freedom Rizzo has to make trades. The Nationals have spoken to many teams about Nick Johnson, and to a few about Adam Dunn.
While the Rockies' slow start cost manager Clint Hurdle his job, their strong rebound is good news for general manager Dan O'Dowd, whose job now seems much more secure.
The Rockies' rebound has a few other effects, notably allowing other teams to believe that they could make the same sort of move back into the race. The Rockies themselves are no longer seen as a July seller, although sources said they're still trying to move Garrett Atkins.
The problem is that Atkins has a .206 batting average and has also regressed defensively.
"He can't play first base," one scout said. "And he can't play third base, either."
Without Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes, the Mets lineup is awful, and they know it. Asked Tuesday night if we should expect more games like Tuesday's (a two-hit Joel Pineiro shutout) or like Monday's (a scrappy 6-4 win), manager Jerry Manuel answered honestly: "That's a good question."
The Mets expect to get all of their injured players back at some point this season, but they can't say exactly when on any of them. While they say there's a chance Beltran (bruised knee) could miss just two weeks, GM Omar Minaya said the All-Star break could be a safer bet.
"If you told me right now we'd have him to start the second half, I'd sign up for that," Minaya said.
Good line from 2,501-win man Tony La Russa, when asked what qualities make a good manager.
"Outstanding players," said La Russa, a fine manager who has also been blessed with many outstanding players.
Among all the impressive Albert Pujols stats, how about this one: In six plate appearances this year with the bases loaded, Pujols is 5 for 5 with three home runs and a sacrifice fly. In those six plate appearances, he has 16 RBIs (out of a possible 24).
For his career, Pujols is a .411 hitter with the bases loaded.