Brewers call up pitcher Dillard

Brewers call up pitcher Dillard

WASHINGTON -- Two minutes before he was headed out the door, Triple-A Nashville pitcher Tim Dillard got a call from manager Frank Kremblas. Kremblas told him he wasn't going to Memphis with the team.

Instead, he would be headed to Washington to make his Major League debut with the Brewers.

From there, it was a mad dash to get his bags to the stadium, repack his clothes to reflect the more rigorous dress code in the Majors, and get to the airport in time for his flight. All while calling his wife, parents and everybody else in his phone book.

"Nothing too exciting," Dillard said calmly. "Just one of those long days. But it was great."

By the time he made it to Nationals Park, his teammates were already on the field stretching and taking batting practice, so he hurried to join them.

"I rushed to get ready and get out to the bullpen," he said. "Then I finally could kick back and relax, watch some baseball. Then the coaches came to me in the seventh and told me that if I wanted it, it was mine."

He entered the game and threw a 1-2-3 eighth inning, which were the final defensive outs for the Brewers in a 5-1 loss. He also picked up his first Major League strikeout against Aaron Boone, though somewhat unintentionally.

"I missed way in," he said. "But then I figured I'd use that to my advantage and start throwing away."

Closer Eric Gagne was moved to the disabled list to create room for Dillard, who is a sinkerball pitcher who can give the team much-needed innings of long relief.

That becomes especially important this weekend as relief pitcher Seth McClung moves to the starting rotation Saturday, though Yost said that McClung would likely be limited to 75-80 pitches, creating further demand on the relievers.

"Everybody's in good shape," Yost said. "We've got a bunch of long guys."

Dillard signed with the Brewers in 2003, working his way up through the Minor League system. This season, he's pitched 31 innings of relief in Nashville, allowing 27 hits and seven earned runs. His father, Steve, is a former Major League player and current hitting coach in the Cardinals organization.

He'll share time with the team's current relievers, including Carlos Villanueva, a former starter who has been moved to relief. Villanueva's time as a starter makes him a strong candidate for long-relief work.

Dillard's promotion created a ripple effect throughout the farm system. Donovan Hand, a 14th-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, was promoted to Double-A Huntsville, and Jason Shiell, who has been briefly called up to the Majors with three teams in the last seven years, moved up to Nashville. Both are right-handers.

Michael Phillips is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.