GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers pitcher Ted Lilly said his stiff neck improved enough to throw a bullpen session Thursday, but team trainers put it off one more day, when the club will decide whether Lilly opens the season on the active roster or disabled list.
Lilly hasn't pitched since March 21 after a flare-up of a neck issue he has had for years and that forced him out of a game last August. Manager Don Mattingly said the club will determine by Friday whether it needs to adjust the work schedule if Lilly won't make his first scheduled regular-season start in San Diego on April 7.
Mattingly said the backup plan is to move fifth starter Chris Capuano into Lilly's third spot and replace Lilly on the roster with a reliever, most likely Josh Lindblom, who could be optioned to the Minor Leagues when Lilly returns. Prior to the Lilly injury, Capuano was expected to be skipped the first time through the rotation because of a day off five days into the season.
"We want Ted healthy and feeling good," Mattingly said. "We need to get him stretched out and have him bounce back from a start. He's missed time and that's put him behind. He's going to need to be where we need him to be. We have to weigh the risks and rewards."
Mattingly hasn't forgotten that Lilly missed about a week with illness last Spring Training and suffered through a difficult first half, encountering elbow soreness that prevented him from making between-start bullpen sessions. It wasn't until the second half that Lilly got on track and helped the Dodgers make their late run.
Lilly would probably pitch in one or two simulated games with the Major League club rather than stay in Arizona to pitch in extended Spring Training games, Mattingly said.
The manager also said that reliever Matt Guerrier came out of a Minor League game Wednesday healthy and has been removed from the club's injury list after missing time with a sore lower back.
Infielder Adam Kennedy continues to progress from a mild groin strain, but Mattingly said he hasn't been cleared to run as a precautionary measure.