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."
Padres replace Wells with Stults in rotation
SAN DIEGO -- The Padres designated veteran starter Kip Wells for assignment Friday, ending the 35-year-old's short, shaky San Diego tenure.
The Padres turned to Wells in late June to patch a hole in their injury-riddled rotation. He threw to a 4.58 ERA and 2-4 record in seven starts, yielding 41 hits in 37 1/3 innings pitched. Lapses in command were often Wells' undoing, a story told by his ratio of 20 walks to just 19 strikeouts in those outings.
"Wells gave us a couple 'W's,' a great game in Colorado, a couple other good games," manager Bud Black said. "When we needed another starter ... Kip gave us a guy that took the ball every fifth day and went out there with an expectation to win."
The departure of Wells leaves the Padres with an open rotation spot, and while he has not yet announced what his rotation will look like beyond this weekend, Black did say left-hander Eric Stults will be moving back into the starting rotation.
Stults, who landed on the disabled list in early June with a strained left lat muscle, returned to the club as a long reliever June 22. He has made five starts for the Padres this season, posting a 3.26 ERA in 30 1/3 innings.
As it shapes up now, the Padres started Clayton Richard on Friday and plan to start Edinson Volquez and Jason Marquis this weekend. Black has left Monday and Tuesday's starters up in the air, though those slots would presumably be filled by Stults and current fifth starter Ross Ohlendorf, who had posted three straight quality starts prior to a 1 2/3-inning, six-run showing in Cincinnati on Thursday.
Padres starter Tim Stauffer will make his second rehab appearance Saturday for Class A Lake Elsinore. Stauffer, San Diego's scheduled Opening Day starter, gave up one unearned run over one inning in a rehab start with the Padres' Arizona League team in Peoria on Tuesday. He has battled right elbow issues all season.
Black said Friday that rookie catcher Yasmani Grandal (oblique) and veteran reliever Joe Thatcher (right knee) are improving, but have no immediate timetable for a return. Both are currently on the 15-day DL.
Rookie catcher Eddy Rodriguez, who smacked a home run in his first Major League at-bat Thursday, will have family in the stands this weekend at Petco Park, just an hour away from where the 26-year-old was playing with Lake Elsinore earlier this week.
Rodriguez, an avid fisherman, was called up late Monday night, hours after an off-day morning spent fishing in Lake Elsinore.
Chelsea Janes is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.