Friday is decision day for the Dodgers regarding Ted Lilly and his stiff neck, but from the sounds of things the team might have an easy choice. Lilly was scheduled to throw a bullpen session today, but will do so on Friday instead. How he feels after that will determine whether or not Lilly will be able to pitch when the season opens or if he will open on year on the disabled list.
"The fact that he wants to throw today makes us feel better, that he feel like he is ready to throw a bullpen today and was kind of pushing for that," said manager Don Mattingly. "But Sue [Falsone, head athletic trainer] and Stan [Conte, senior director of medical services] got together and felt like tomorrow was the best day for that."
Lilly payed catch from about 60 feet on Tuesday and said on Wednesday that he felt better, but that this injury is slightly different than the neck injury he suffered last August.
"It's a similar type of injury, just on the other side of the neck," Lilly said. "This has taken a lot longer to heal."
Lilly like last year has tried acupuncture this year, along with a variety of other treatments to get ready to pitch. But the Dodgers are proceeding with caution.
"We want him feeling good and healthy when he starts getting prepared. We really haven't gotten Teddy stretched out yet to the number of pitches that we want, and he'll have to have another bounce-back start," Mattingly said. "He's missed a turn and that's put him behind a little bit. The decision will be is going to be able where we need him to be."
Lilly last pitched on March 21, in a game on the minor league side during which he allowed six runs (four earned) and two home runs in five innings.
The Dodgers have the option of starting Lilly on the disabled list, which they can backdate to March 25. Mattingly said Lilly would have to throw a simulated game followed by a rehab game before being ready to start a regular season game, which would likely come on April 14 at home against the San Diego Padres.
If Lilly opens the season on the disabled list, Chris Capuano would slide into Lilly's spot in the rotation, starting April 7 in San Diego. Capuano is scheduled to start for the Dodgers on Friday at Camelback Ranch, and if he is needed to step in for Lilly, Capuano would not start a game in the Freeway Series against the Angels, but might pitch an inning or two in relief.
"The risk/reward doesn't change things by a whole lot when you look over the course of 162 games," Mattingly said, of deciding on whether or not to place Lilly on the disabled list. "We're trying to make a good decision, and get all the information first before we jump into something. We feel like we have until tomorrow to make that decision."
Mattingly said if Lilly were to open the season on the disabled list the Dodgers would "definitely" use an eighth reliever rather than carry an extra position player for the first eight games of the year. But Mattingly stressed that he didn't want to jump ahead, as literally anything could happen during the last week that could have a domino effect on the roster.
But the decision on Lilly will come on Friday.
Aaron Harang makes his final Cactus League start as the Dodgers host the White Sox in their fifth and final matchup this spring. Chris Sale, making the transition this year from the bullpen to the rotation, starts for Chicago.
Adam Kennedy, who suffered a slight right groin pull on Sunday in Maryvale against the Milwaukee Brewers, has been cleared to resume all baseball activities except running. He hit in the cage yesterday and took ground balls during workouts and reported no problems.
Matt Guerrier is scheduled to pitch on Friday at Camelback Ranch against the Brewers, his first Cactus League game since March 8.
Broadcaster Charley Steiner tonight will deliver the opening keynote address at the Fifth Summit on Communication and Sport at Bradley University, his alma mater.
Alex Rios was scratched from the lineup with a strained left achilles. Trace Thompson is now starting in right field for Chicago, batting eighth.
Game Time: 1:05 p.m. PDT
TV: Prime Ticket (Steve Lyons & Rick Monday)