McClung to 15-day DL, Dillard up

The Brewers already needed to add a pitcher. Instead, they had one taken away.

The team placed reliever Seth McClung on the 15-day disabled list with a sprain to his surgically-repaired right elbow, announcing the move minutes before the start of Saturday’s Brewers-Braves game and a few hours after McClung underwent an MRI scan.

Two innings into the game, a spokesperson said that Triple-A right-hander Tim Dillard would take McClung’s spot. Dillard becomes a candidate to fill the Brewers’ need for a starter on Tuesday against the Nationals, though manager Ken Macha offered strong hints that he might use reliever Carlos Villanueva instead. 

“We have a number of candidates for that spot,” Macha said.

McClung, who was injured during his outing against the Braves on Friday night, isn’t one of them. His immediate concern is his elbow, the subject of Tommy John reconstructive surgery in 2003. By definition, a sprained ligament is torn, but for now it appears that surgery is not on the table.

Instead, McClung will rest the elbow until it’s pain-free.

“The timetable is on the elbow,” McClung said. “I don’t want to push back too hard. I want to be a part of this team.”

McClung felt what he termed a “weird” sensation in his elbow while pitching against the Braves and exited with two outs in the ninth inning. McClung was hurt on a change-up to Nate McLouth that sailed to the backstop, and, after throwing 10 more pitches, decided to call it a night.

He said it was the first time in his career that he walked off the field with an injury.

“[Surgery] was not brought up as a possibility for the immediate or for the season,” McClung said. “It wasn’t like that. Obviously, we talked about it because I’ve been through it before. That was my first question. … But they said we’re going to rehab it and take care of it.”

McClung has a 5.03 ERA in 36 relief appearances and two starts this season. With McClung sidelined, deposed starter Mike Burns took over long relief duties on Saturday.

Dillard is 10-4 with a 3.66 ERA in 19 starts this season for Nashville. He was converted back to a starting role after pitching as a reliever in 2007 and 2008, including 13 Brewers appearances last season.

Dillard and Villanueva are options to start Tuesday, but there’s also the possibility that general manager Doug Melvin will be able to swing a trade.

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