Having lost Zack Greinke for at least eight weeks, the Dodgers now have another pitching controversy where they didn’t expect it.
Ted Lilly, whose shaky health status was one of the reasons the Dodgers went out and signed free agents Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu over the winter, has refused the team’s request for Minor League rehab assignment.
It could mean the end of the line with the Dodgers for the 37-year-old finesse lefthander who commands a $12 million salary and now seems like the odd man out in the starting rotation.
He made two minor league starts while on the disabled list and another assignment in the minors could keep him there until May.
In those two minor league starts, Lilly gave up 10 earned runs and 17 hits in 12 innings.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers had a choice of choosing either Lilly or Chris Capuano to replace Greinke on the rotation, starting with Tuesday’s game against the Padres at Dodger Stadium – and manager Don Mattingly chose Capuano.
Lilly, who can’t be sent down without his permission, says he is healthy and ready to pitch in the Major Leagues, which the Dodgers don’t believe.
"We laid out a plan and, obviously, he just didn't like the plan," Mattingly said. "From a baseball standpoint, we felt he wasn't quite ready for what we want him to do, to start."
The Dodgers can't keep Lilly on the disabled list indefinitely and must activate him, designate him for assignment, release him or trade him.
A trade might be difficult, given Lilly’s age, physical woes and big salary.
Lilly, who had shoulder surgery last year when he could make only eight starts, has been on the disabled list and had an abbreviated spring training because of the flu, and bad weather shortened one of his starts.
"For me, it's a baseball decision. It's nothing personal in any way, shape or form. We're giving him our baseball thoughts, what we think is best for him and the team."