MARYVALE, AZ -- There is a role for every player on a Major League Baseball team, and Tim Dillard's is to provide relief - different kinds of relief.
Dillard is the Milwaukee Brewers' side-arming impressionist. The son of a former big league infielder, Dillard re-invented himself as a pitcher in 2010 by agreeing to change his delivery. "I remember Doug Melvin saying, 'you've got a big league fastball - we're just going to change how you're throwing it,'" Dillard said.
That was sobering, but it was also the start of a path that brought the middle reliever back up through the Brewers farm system last season. Making it as a second-generation Major Leaguer was very important to Dillard, but climbing back up on a Major League mound was more significant. "It was actually more special than the first time in '08, and I was actually doing well then, and I felt like I had kind of earned it, like I deserved it or something, but quickly taken away, and it puts things in perspective," Dillard said.
Dillard handles things with humility and humor. He is beloved in the clubhouse for his ability to do impressions. "I have always loved Harry Caray," Dillard said. "He does good impressions of just about everyone. Everything is a little over the top of what it actually is. It's a little more of a caricature of the actual person," Brewers' John Axford said.
That assessment holds when it comes to doing an impression of third-base coach Ed Sedar. "He's got one of those voices. Coaching third base, you need to tell them if they can score, or they have to stop. Sometimes, they have to stop," Dillard said.
Wisely, Dillard knows when to stop. "Last year, somebody asked me if I could do Ron Roenicke and I said 'not on film,'" Dillard said.
Dillard says using a sidearm delivery isn't as difficult on his elbow as you might expect, but it is quite taxing on his back and hips.