The Dodgers have a pair of ailing players, both of whom are improving in their conditions, but starting the season on the disabled list isn't out of the question and might even be likely for one, if not both, of Ted Lilly and Adam Kennedy.
Lilly, who last pitched on March 21, threw a bullpen session on Friday under the watchful eye of just about everybody, including manager Don Mattingly, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, and trainer Sue Falsone. Lilly has been held back with a stiff neck, which has improved in recent days.
"I don't feel any pain. I'm a little stiff, but there's nothing that's really grabbing me anymore," Lilly said after his bullpen session, which he said was longer and more vigorous than a normal bullpen session.
The next step for Lilly is likely a simulated game, which might have to be followed by a rehab game before he pitches for the Dodgers. The team can place Lilly on the disabled list retroactive to March 26, which would make him eligible to return as early as April 10, though Clayton Kershaw is starting that day, the home opener.
If Lilly starts the season on the disabled list, Mattingly said Chris Capuano would step into the third starter spot to open the season, and the Dodgers have an off day on April 9.
"I'm a little behind, having missed a couple starts," Lilly said. "Whatever decision they make is best for our club, and I'm on board....I'd like to start, but it comes down to what's best for 25 guys and not just me."
We will likely know more about Lilly's status after today's game, or perhaps tomorrow.
As for Kennedy, his slight right groin pull is improving and he participated in running drills on Friday. If Kennedy feels okay tomorrow he will be the designated hitter in a minor league game. The Dodgers are playing it cautious with Kennedy, not rushing him back.
"I'm not going to force him into a game just to get him into a game," Mattingly said.
The next action Kennedy sees in a major league game could be the Freeway Series, as the club wants to see how he responds to playing and running in a minor league game or two first. Kennedy suffered the injury on Sunday in Maryvale. As of now, they can backdate a DL stint to March 26 and have him only miss the opening series in San Diego.
in Mesa, where the bullpen game begins with Fernando Nieve and will include mound appearances by Mike MacDougal, Scott Elbert, Kenley Jansen, and Javy Guerra. Ryan Dempster starts for the Cubs.
...and at Camelback Ranch, where Capuano starts for the Dodgers, opposed by Francisco Rodriguez of the Milwaukee Brewers in what looks like a bullpen game for Milwaukee.
Game Time: 1:05 p.m (both games)
TV: Prime Ticket (vs. Brewers; Rick Monday and Steve Lyons); also the free game of the day on MLBtv
Radio: None, though the Royals' broadcast of the game in Surprise can be heard through MLB Gameday Audio
MLB Gameday (home vs. Brewers)