Dillard sent out to clear spot for Saito

Dillard sent out to clear spot for Saito

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Brewers swapped-out right-handed relievers on Saturday, optioning Tim Dillard back to Triple-A Nashville to open the spot they needed for veteran Takashi Saito's return from the 15-day disabled list.

Club officials had been debating the move, since it became clear earlier in the week that Saito was ready to return from a left rib-cage injury. In sending down Dillard, the Brewers opted to continue on with an 11-man pitching staff, including six relievers, at least through this weekend's Interleague series at Target Field.

Dillard surrendered 10 earned runs and 17 hits over 18 innings for Milwaukee. Eight of the runs and 12 of the hits came in his final eight appearances, spanning 8 1/3 innings.

He was one of two or three players considered for removal from the 25-man roster to make room for Saito, said manager Ron Roenicke, who obviously could not reveal the other options. Assistant general manager Gord Ash said, "it's safe to assume we considered all the possibilities," and that includes two position players with options -- Mat Gamel, who was promoted before this Interleague trip to serve as the Brewers' designated hitter, and third baseman Casey McGehee, who has been fighting a season-long slump.

The Brewers opted to keep Gamel at least through Sunday, the team's final game with a DH. At some point after that, Gamel could resume his role as Nashville's starting first baseman.

"I don't know if it will happen right away, but certainly we're going to get back to 12 [pitchers]," said Ash, who considers Gamel best suited for everyday duty instead of a big league bench role behind first baseman Prince Fielder.

"I think it's been pretty clear in the couple of seasons we've had him up before that he's best served in the lineup," Ash said. "It doesn't mean that hitters aren't continually maturing and adjusting, but I think he's the kind of hitter who needs to play. It's hard for him to sit."