LOS ANGELES – The Dodgers designated pitcher Ted Lilly for assignment Thursday, a move they preferred not to make but felt they were forced to.
Lilly, who was activated from the disabled list on Wednesday, refused the team’s request to pitch in the minors, so the Dodgers essentially let him go. He’s likely to be picked up on waivers by another team or become a free agent.
Lilly had three stints on the DL this season, the last one because of a neck strain, and told the Dodgers he felt he could be more productive as a relief pitcher than a starter. They wanted him to pitch in the minors to determine his readiness to pitch in games, but he balked.
“I felt like I was ready to help us win games,” Lilly said. “There was a difference of opinion there.”
With two left-handers, J.P. Howell and Paco Rodriguez, already in the bullpen, the team essentially had no choice but to let Lilly go.
“Teddy thinks he can pitch out of the bullpen, and I can’t argue with that,” manager Don Mattingly said. “It was just tough for us, without us seeing him try it, to displace one of the guys we have right now, one of our lefties. It was hard for us to make a move like that without seeing it.”
Lilly, 37, has missed 78 games and made just five starts because of injuries. He also spent time on the DL because of shoulder surgery and a rib-cage strain. He had an 0-2 record and 5.09 ERA.
“Teddy hasn’t been able to stay on the field,” Mattingly said. “It’s frustrating. That was part of his decision (in) saying he didn’t feel like he could continue to start because he didn’t feel like his body was going to hold up. Then we’re in a time box trying to figure out if he can relieve.”
Lilly is in the final year of a three-year deal that pays him $12 million this season.
“Without a doubt, coming in here and signing a three year deal, playing one full year of that is difficult from my perspective,” he said. “That’s been the biggest disappointment for me.”
To take Lilly’s roster spot, the Dodgers called up infielder-outfielder Elian Herrera from Triple-A Albuquerque.