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Ted Lilly could move up for next minors rehab start

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Lilly could face Double-A or Triple-A hitters in his next minor league outing.

USA TODAY Sports

Dodgers pitcher Ted Lilly had his ups and downs on Friday night on a minor league rehab start with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, but his next start will likely come against tougher competition.

Lilly allowed five runs on nine hits in six innings for the Quakes Friday night, including three home runs. Assistant pitching coach Ken Howell was in Rancho Cucamonga to watch Lilly.

"It sounds like it was some good, some bad. The velocity showed some inconsistency with that," manager Don Mattingly said on Saturday. "Overall, it was a step in the direction of being competitive."

Lilly is on the disabled list technically as recovering from left shoulder labrum surgery, which he had on Sep. 21. But Lilly for the most part has been healthy all spring, but just hasn't been able to build up arm strength. He missed two starts due to illness and had another one cut short by rain. He threw 76 pitches on Friday night in Class-A, and will likely need at least two more rehab starts before he is deemed ready to be activated.

Those starts may come at higher levels, either for Double-A Chattanooga or Triple-A Albuquerque. The Isotopes are home to host Omaha on both Apr. 10 and Apr. 11, while the Lookouts are on the road in Tennessee to play the Smokies on those same dates.

"I know Rancho is really convenient, but a step up in competition is really good for guys," Mattingly said.

What Lilly's role would be once he is activated remains to be seen, but Mattingly has often mentioned Lilly and Aaron Harang in the same breath as pitchers best suited to starting and not relief. The Dodgers traded Harang to the Rockies on Saturday and with a full starting staff and bullpen by Wednesday don't seem to have a spot for Lilly, who is making $12 million in the final season of a three-year contract.

A player can be on a minor league rehabilitation assignment for up to 30 days.