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MILWAUKEE -- Tim Dillard was back in the big leagues Saturday after nearly two years away. He didn't see his promotion coming.
"Not a chance," said the side-arming right-hander, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Nashville. "We had a 7 o'clock game, then a rain delay at 8 for three hours. We were strapping it back on and I was walking out to the field and [Nashville pitching coach] Rich Gale comes up holding a baseball."
Gale asked whether Dillard could quickly prepare to pitch. Dillard set down his cup of coffee and, of course, said yes.
"He was like, 'No, I can't let you do that,'" Dillard said. "I said, why not? He goes, 'Because you're going to be in Milwaukee tomorrow.'"
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."
Estrada to assume more prominent bullpen role
MILWAUKEE -- The arrival of multi-inning reliever Tim Dillard on Saturday meant another Brewers bullpen shuffle, and a more prominent role for right-hander Marco Estrada.
"Estrada, the way he's pitching, he may be a guy we use later in the game," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Right now, I really like him later in the game."
Estrada retired all six hitters he faced Friday night, his fourth scoreless relief appearance this season in four tries. He started the year as Zack Greinke's starting rotation fill-in.
Estrada could team with right-hander LaTroy Hawkins in covering the seventh inning when the Brewers have a lead, Roenicke suggested. He still plans to use Kameron Loe in the eighth inning and John Axford in the ninth.
"I think Estrada is a great fit because he was go [for the] sixth and seventh, no problem," Roenicke said. "I like putting him out there for a second inning, because I know he's going to get better as the innings go. Some guys, you pitch one inning and then it's like, 'OK, who do we go to next?'"
Dillard got the nod over another right-hander with some big-league experience, Mark DiFelice, a fan-favorite who missed all of 2010 while recovering from shoulder surgery. Dillard has no doubt that DiFelice will pitch in the Majors this season. "He's coming around, big-time," Dillard said. "Once he gets his endurance up and can go one, two innings on shorter days' rest, he'll be right back here. His stuff is there."...Reliever Zach Braddock will not accompany the Brewers on their unusual, four-game West Coast road trip next week, manager Ron Roenicke said. Braddock is on the DL with a sleep disorder, and while he's eligible for reinstatement Monday, the Brewers do not feel this trip is conducive to his condition. It was unclear as of Saturday whether Braddock would make another Minor League rehabilitation appearance while the Brewers are away...Right-hander and top Brewers pitching prospect Mark Rogers was activated from the Triple-A disabled list on Saturday. He's slated to start Sunday afternoon after missing time with bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, believed to be the result of a viral infection.