When you get older, things happen. This body part aches, that one creaks, another stings. Most of the time they come and go, but sometimes they linger. Sometimes they become a bigger issue.
Ted Lilly is 37, which is hardly ancient, but if you’re a professional athlete, it can feel like you’re knocking at its door.
So when Lilly found his back beginning to tighten the day after his first start, he figured it was just one of those things.
“There are things that come up and then they go away,” Lilly said. “You try not to make too big a deal out of little things, and most of the time they’re nothing. I got caught off guard. I was confident that this would get better.”
But his back and neck was still tight Monday at Dodger Stadium, and then got progressively worse.
Lilly left after just three innings, having surrendered five runs on eight hits – including two homers – and is now scheduled to have an MRI Tuesday to make sure what he originally thought was something minor is not more serious.
Lilly is coming off shoulder surgery. His 2013 debut was delayed by a finger injury, but in his first start last week against the Mets, he looked surprisingly sharp. Or exactly the opposite of how he looked Monday.
And now, of course, there is a new back issue.
“I think I have a few things to be concerned about,” Lilly said. “That (back) being one of them, and just ineffectiveness. There are a lot of guys in the clubhouse who aren’t feeling as good as they’d like to, you still expect to get the results you’re looking for.”
Trainer Sue Falsone and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt came out to the mound to check up on when was again struggling in the third, loading the bases, but he managed to finish the inning.
“I didn’t want to come out,” he said. “I wanted to get out of that inning. A start like that puts our club in an awfully tough spot, not only for tonight but for tomorrow. I wanted to try and pitch as deep into the game as I could.”
Three was it.
“When you saw him walk off that last inning, you could see he was stiff,” said Manager Don Mattingly.
So now it’s at least bad enough for the Dodgers to have it checked out with an MRI, which means they are concerned. When you have four starters on the disabled list, your concern level does get amped.
Lilly would likely next pitch Saturday in San Francisco. If he is unable to go, the Dodgers still have Matt Magill on the roster, the rookie who became their ninth starter of the year last Saturday.