"We needed to get an arm in here for today," general manager Doug Melvin said Tuesday, when the Brewers continued a four-game series at Florida. "We didn't have any other choice."
That's because the bullpen was ailing, with Mark DiFelice off-limits because of a sore elbow and Seth McClung and Todd Coffey unlikely to pitch because of a heavy workload of late. At the same time, the Brewers were unsure of center fielder Mike Cameron's status after he exited Monday's game with a knee injury, and didn't want to part with a position player.
Thus, Julio was the pick to go.
"I talked to him and told him we needed somebody who would throw more strikes," said Melvin, who stressed that Julio was not released because of one bad outing. "He didn't say anything, didn't ask any questions."
Manager Ken Macha looked at the bright side.
"We have six guys throwing pretty well in the bullpen, and that's a luxury," Macha said. "That limits time that some guys can get. If you're an extra guy, you have to be ready, and then when you get in there, you have to do the job."
The Brewers could have designated Julio for assignment and tried to trade him, but Melvin said he figured it was better to let him hit the open market. Technically, Julio was placed on release waivers, and any team that claimed him would owe the Brewers $1 million and would pick up the remainder of Julio's salary. He almost certainly will clear waivers.
"We give people the benefit of the doubt a certain amount of times, but there is a point that we make changes," Melvin said. "You just can't panic and make a move because somebody has a bad week."
Burns, 30, is a veteran of 45 relief appearances with a 5.88 ERA for the Reds, Astros and Red Sox in 2005 and '06. He was 6-2 with a 2.98 ERA at Nashville this season and was 6-0 before losing his past two starts.
"He throws strikes, and we needed somebody who was more than a one-inning guy," Melvin said.
Availability also played a role. Right-hander Tim Dillard pitched for the Brewers last season and is having an excellent season for Nashville after moving to a starting role (7-2, 3.68 ERA in 10 starts). But Dillard pitched seven innings on Sunday and was unavailable.
"It was definitely a surprise, but a good one," Burns said of the promotion.
He credits his resurgence to the chance to stay in Nashville's starting rotation this season. He started the year there while left-hander Lindsay Gulin, who spend most of Spring Training working relief in big league camp, stretched out his arm. Burns expected to move to the bullpen when Gulin was ready, but instead he stuck in the rotation by winning his first six decisions.
"I always wanted to start again," Burns said. "But being in the big leagues, it doesn't matter if you're starting or relieving."
The Brewers had to add Burns to the 40-man roster. He will wear No. 47.