Ted Lilly is so frustrated with the amount of time he has spent on the disabled list this year that he has told Dodgers officials that he is willing to try a relief role in order to stay healthy. According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Lilly has reached the point where he is simply looking for the best way to get back out on the field, in any capacity. Manager Don Mattingly seemed prepared to use Lilly out of the bullpen if he was effective there.
"We'll give it a shot," said Mattingly. "Rick [Honeycutt, pitching coach] will set up a sim game tomorrow and every other day, and we'll see what it looks like. Ted said the best chance for him would be out of the bullpen. I want to be open-minded and see what it looks like."
Lilly has made just five starts all season as a result of three separate injuries: his shoulder surgery from 2012 kept him out at the start of the year, then a muscle strain in his side sidelined him again at the start of May, before his current neck problem sent him back to the DL in June. Lilly, now 37, hopes to keep playing for a few more years yet.
"I've thought about it. I've had a lot of down time to think," he said of his future. "I want to play if I can be effective. I'd like to play for a long time. I certainly don't want to be on the DL day after day. I'll play as long as I can, if I can be on the field."
There aren't many pitchers left that Lilly could replace even if he was to try to get back in the rotation. The Dodgers have just traded for Ricky Nolasco to fill another rotation spot and even right-hander Stephen Fife has performed surprisingly well after getting multiple opportunities through injuries to other starters. Fife has a 2.76 ERA and a K/BB ratio of almost 3 in 45 2/3 innings this season. With Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu anchoring the staff, the bullpen is probably Lilly's best route back to the Dodgers' major league staff.
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