SAN DIEGO -- In an attempt to bolster a beleaguered bullpen in the midst of a stretch of 13 games in 13 days, the Padres selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Cory Burns from Triple-A Tucson prior to Friday's series opener with the Mets. Burns, a 24-year-old Phoenix native, will assume a middle-relief role for San Diego.
Burns had settled into an eighth-inning role in his first season in Triple-A, recording a 2.63 ERA in 53 games. The big number for Burns is his strikeout-to-walk ratio, a strong 77 strikeouts to just 16 walks. Acquired by the Padres from the Indians via trade prior to the 2012 season, Burns was named Double-A Relief Pitcher of the Year by MLB.com for his 35-save season with Akron in 2011.
"T.K. [Tucson manager Terry Kennedy] indicated that he's been pretty consistent all year as far as his stuff and being one of the better relief pitchers in the [Pacific] Coast League," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Everybody in the Minor League department felt as though Cory was the most deserving guy to come up and help our club."
So while Burns' move to the big leagues may have been an obvious one for the Padres' brass, it certainly caught Burns off guard.
"My manager just blurted it out in the middle of the clubhouse in Round Rock," Burns said. "I was just in awe. It was surreal; it was unbelievable. I knew I had been throwing the ball well lately, but it was just surreal."
Black said that though Burns, a reliever both at the University of Arizona and throughout his Minor League career, is not a long man by any means, he'll be called upon to throw multiple innings at a time for a San Diego bullpen lacking length. Lefty Eric Stults, who had been the long man for the Padres' recent 10-game road trip, will be returning to the starting rotation.
While the likes of Brad Boxberger, Miles Mikolas and Nick Vincent -- Burns' comrades in the Triple-A bullpen -- have been back and forth between Tucson and San Diego, this will be Burns' first stint with the big league club. His approach? Keep things simple.
"Just go make my pitches," Burns said. "That's really all it comes down to. Doesn't matter if it's the fourth inning or the seventh inning or the ninth inning -- just go make pitches and it's going to turn out the way it should."