The Dodgers on Thursday designated veteran pitcher Ted Lilly for assignment after the left-hander drawing a $13.2-million salary declined a return trip to the minor leagues.
A day after Lilly, 37, was activated from the disabled list and inserted in the team's bullpen in Toronto, he packed up and left Dodger Stadium, hopeful to land with another major-league team as utility player Elian Herrera was promoted from Albuquerque.
Lilly is owed almost half of his salary and could be placed on waivers, traded or released in 10 days.
"Pretty big turn of events … I felt like I was ready to help us win games right here," Lilly said. "There was a difference of opinion."
Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said while it was appropriate for pitching depth purpose to activate a healthy Lilly for Wednesday's game — he wasn't used in the 10-inning game — a deeper look upon the return home against National League teams led to the move.
Lilly (0-2, 5.09 earned-run average in five starts) has battled neck injuries this year. His first start wasn't until April 24. Then he was sidelined for nearly a month.
And he made his final Dodgers start June 4 after making just eight starts following a shoulder injury that stunted his 5-1 start in 2012.
Lilly told Mattingly before the All-Star break he didn't feel his body was up to the task of returning to the mound four days after a 90- to 100-pitch outing any longer.
Lilly hadn't pitched in relief since a 2002 appearance with Oakland, and the Dodgers wanted to be certain he was up to the conversion, Mattingly said.
Left-handed relievers Paco Rodriguez, with 41 strikeouts in 35 innings and opponents batting .139 against him, and J.P. Howell (.206 against) have solidified their roles for the first-place team.
"The way our bullpen is situated right now, we didn't feel like there was a spot that gave us the best chance to win," Mattingly said. "We looked at Teddy's value as a starter, and he told us he didn't think he could start."
Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti said, "From a couple of simulated games, it's tough to determine if someone can come back. Everything is important now."
Lilly said after accepting other rehab assignments this season, he feels better than he has all year and is hopeful to show it.
"After getting activated, I thought I'd have the chance to contribute to a very good ballclub," Lilly said.
Asked whether he's able to start, Lilly said, "I'm not too far away, the main thing is being healthy. I'm throwing the ball well and expect to get better. I believe I can be effective in the big leagues.
"I've had this neck issue, some spurs and bulging discs, but for whatever reason they went away. I'd like to be in the big leagues as soon as possible."
Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis homered Monday in Toronto, had four hits and five runs batted in Tuesday, has raised his batting average 20 points since June 29 and ranks second in the National League, throwing out 19 of 42 would-be base stealers.
"It feels the same as last year, quality at-bats, guy that forces you to make pitches, forces you to throw strikes," Mattingly said. "The catching part is the same. If we're talking throwing guys out, a lot of the credit goes to the pitchers. They're very good at keeping guys on base."
Mattingly said the Dodgers were back home from Toronto on at 4 a.m. Thursday … The manager said of Herrera: "We needed a fill-in guy to move around the diamond."