Dillard thought it was a joke, but it wasn't. The Brewers promoted him to replace right-hander Brandon Kintzler, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with triceps tendonitis.
A lot has changed since Dillard, 27, last threw a pitch for the Brewers on July 31, 2009. For starters, the Miller Park clubhouses have been redone, so Dillard arrived Saturday to not-so-familiar surroundings.
The more dramatic change is his own delivery, from a standard overhand to a new, sidearm sling that Dillard adopted at the Brewers' urging in 2010 Spring Training. He posted a 4.12 ERA in 2010, but sometimes found himself relapsing.
"After a day off, I'd come back and throw over the top and you're like, 'Wait a second, that's not me anymore,'" Dillard said.
Now, the sidearm delivery feels natural.
"I was very excited [to get called up]," Dillard said. "The sidearm thing has come pretty natural, and they've given me a lot of time to bring it together. For them to bring me up was just amazing. I want them to see that, 'Hey, you made the right move with the sidearm thing.' I've enjoyed it."
Dillard was the Brewers pick over fellow sidearming right-hander Sean Green, who started the year with Milwaukee, but was optioned to Nashville on May 5.
"Sean has not been pitching well," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.
Dillard had been pitching well in 10 relief outings, particularly against right-handed batters (.106 average, 5-for-47). Left-handers were hitting .256 against him (10-for-39).
"I had a few rough ones, but for the most part, it was quality outings in the sense that you try to get righties out, try to get ground balls from lefties," Dillard said. "[I want] to go out and compete and show my stuff is good enough to be noticed."