One day after activating Ted Lilly from the DL, the Dodgers designated the 37-year old pitcher for assignment. The team now has ten days to trade or release Lilly.
“He was very classy about it,” Dodger manager Don Mattingly said. “The biggest issue has been health, not talent, not heart or anything else.”
Before the All Star break Lilly told the team he didn’t believe his body could hold up under the demands of being a starting pitcher.
Mattingly said the team didn’t know how Lilly would make the transition from starter to reliever. The Dodgers asked Lilly to pitch in relief in more minor league games. Lilly refused, forcing today’s move.
“Rick Honeycutt is our pitching coach who went from starting to the bullpen,” Mattingly said. “He knows there’s an adjustment. How long does it take to get him ready? When do we have to get him up? How does he bounce back? Without Teddy going down to the minor leagues, to see, we didn’t know those answers.”
With his team battling to stay in first place, Mattingly didn’t believe finding out those answers at the big league level was the in the team’s best interests. When Lilly refused to pitch in the minors, the Dodgers were faced with the grim reality of releasing him.
“You get to the point where you’re forced to make a move that’s best for the ball club,” Mattingly said. “It’s hard to displace our guys down there who’ve been doing their job.”
The Dodgers signed Lilly in 2011 to a three-year $33 million contract. Lilly started 2012 strong, winning five of his first six decisions before being placed on the disabled list on May 28th with neck problems that would sideline him the entire season.
This season, Lilly started the year on the DL and never regained form. In five starts for Los Angeles, he went 0-2 with a 5.09 ERA, never making it out of the sixth inning.
Lilly had limited success in rehabilitation games, going 1-5 with an 8.01 ERA.
“Teddy thinks he can still pitch, and pitch out of the bullpen,” Mattingly said. “I can’t argue with that, but we didn’t see that in the rehab games.”
Now Los Angeles has ten days to trade or release Lilly. While the interest level in the oft-injured 37-year old is unclear, the move means he’s pitched his last game for the Dodgers.
“We wish him the best,” Mattingly said. “It’s obviously not the way you want it to end for anybody.”
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