Lilly to return to Dodgers Tuesday
Newly acquired left-hander Ted Lilly will make his debut for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night against the San Diego Padres, something manager Joe Torre hinted at when the Dodgers got Lilly in a five-player trade with the Chicago Cubs on Saturday and made official after meeting with Lilly upon the pitcher's arrival at AT&T Park on Sunday.
Lilly last pitched for the Cubs on Tuesday, meaning he will be starting on six days' rest.
Lilly, who originally was drafted by the Dodgers in the 23rd round in 1996 before being traded to Montreal in a seven-player deal for Carlos Perez two years later while Lilly was pitching in Triple-A, said he was thrilled his professional career had come full circle.
"It's pretty fantastic to get a chance to come back and play for the team I originally signed with," Lilly said. "As a youngster, I was devastated when the Dodgers traded me to Montreal. It had been my dream to come up and pitch for the Dodgers.
"It took 14 years, but I have that chance now."
The Dodgers traded infielder Blake DeWitt and minor league pitchers Kyle Smit and Brett Wallach to the Cubs for Lilly and infielder Ryan Theriot. General manager Ned Colletti also completed a deal to get reliever Octavio Dotel from the Pittsburgh Pirates for right-hander James McDonald and minor league outfielder Andrew Lambo.
Los Angeles also received approximately $2.5 million to cover part of what remains of Lilly's $12 million salary for this year. The Pirates will pick up $500,000 of Dotel's salary.
Theriot was batting second and playing second base against San Francisco, and Dotel is expected to help shore up the bullpen.
Lilly, though, is the key acquisition.
Lilly, who has reached double figures in wins each of the past seven seasons, was 3-8 with the Cubs this season despite a 3.69 ERA, mostly because of a lack of run support. In the Dodgers, he is coming to another team that has struggled mightily of late to score runs.
"It is what it is," Lilly said of the Cubs' paltry output while he was on the mound. "My job as a starting pitcher is to give up fewer runs than the ... other starting pitcher. Regardless of how many runs we score, so long as we score more than they do, I'm happy."
Dodgers manager Joe Torre, who also managed Lilly with the New York Yankees, isn't worried about his numbers.
"The first time I saw him, we played at Shea Stadium and he was 2-0 and 3-1 on everybody and nobody could get a hit," Torre said. "That showed me something about the late movement on his pitches. Then I watched him really shut us down throwing no harder than 85, 86. What he has inside him is one of his real plusses. He competes."
Lilly acknowledged it was difficult leaving Chicago. He agreed to a $40 million, four-year deal with the Cubs in late 2006 and had hoped to lead them into the playoffs.
Instead he's back in Los Angeles trying to get the Dodgers there.
"It's always shocking, even though I kind of was aware something would be happening before the deadline," Lilly said. "I was really lucky to play in the city of Chicago and I had a great experience there. On the same token I consider myself pretty fortunate to come back and play for the Dodgers."
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.