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Ted Lilly agrees to continue minor-league rehab assignment

By Mike Axisa | Baseball Writer

The Dodgers will have a little more time to decide what to do with Ted Lilly. (USATSI)

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UPDATE: Ted Lilly has agreed to continue his minor-league rehab assignment at the Triple-A level, . He'll make his next start Tuesday.

Thanks to their offseason spending spree, the Dodgers came into the season with eight starting pitchers for five spots. One of the extra starters was traded away (Aaron Harang) while another (Chris Capuano) has moved into the rotation following Zack Greinke's broken collarbone.

Left-hander Ted Lilly opened the year on the DL after having shoulder surgery last summer, but he is now healthy and ready to be activated. The team asked him to continue his minor league stint over the weekend, but Lilly initially refused (MLB.com's Ken Gurnick). Now, however, Lilly has agreed to make one additional rehab start at the Triple-A level, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. That start will come Tuesday night.

That's a good thing from the Dodgers' standpoint, as manager Don Mattingly made it clear the team doesn't think he's ready to return to the show:

"We laid out a plan and, obviously, he just didn't like the plan," said manager Don Mattingly, who put Chris Capuano in the starting rotation, and not Lilly, to replace the injured Zack Greinke. "From a baseball standpoint, we felt he wasn't quite ready for what we want him to do, to start."

"We laid out a plan and Teddy doesn't want to be part of the plan. It's out of my hands. We didn't feel he was ready to pitch at the Major League level. 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."

Lilly is owed $12 million this year and will become a free agent after the season.

The Dodgers are currently carrying seven relievers -- they had been carrying eight before the Harang trade -- and could option right-hander Shawn Tolleson or left-hander Paco Rodriguez to Triple-A to make room for Lilly when the time comes. Rodriguez has been very effective so far, but Tolleson was just called up following Greinke's injury. There is bullpen space available.

Lilly hasn't pitched in relief regularly since 2002 or at all since 2003, so shifting to the bullpen would be an adjustment. The Dodgers could also put him in the rotation and stick Capuano back in the bullpen. There are options. Pitching depth is precious, though, so holding onto Lilly at least while Greinke is out makes sense for a contending team. It seems unlikely they'll get much in a trade anyway.

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