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Lilly asks Dodgers to move him into relief role

Lilly asks Dodgers to move him into relief role

Lilly asks Dodgers to move him into relief role play video for Lilly asks Dodgers to move him into relief role

PHOENIX -- Dodgers left-handed pitcher Ted Lilly, frustrated with his third stint on the disabled list this season, told club officials Tuesday to try him as a reliever.

Lilly hasn't made a relief appearance since 2003, but he's now 37 and concedes that he can't manage a chronic neck problem with a starter's workload.

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"Ideally, I'd like to be a starter and be effective in that role," said Lilly. "I've had a hard time staying healthy. I pitched Saturday [rehab start at Class A Rancho Cucamonga], and it was sore Sunday. Yesterday, it was pretty good."

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly seemed pleased to hear that Lilly would embrace a relief role because lefties J.P. Howell and Paco Rodriguez have evolved into set-up roles and Lilly could assume a situational left-hander position.

"We'll give it a shot," said Mattingly. "Rick [Honeycutt, pitching coach] will set up a sim game tomorrow and every other day, and we'll see what it looks like. Ted said the best chance for him would be out of the bullpen. I want to be open-minded and see what it looks like."

Lilly is 0-2 with a 5.09 ERA in five starts, but his season began on the disabled list coming off last year's surgery. He returned after missing 19 games, but a week later was disabled with a strained ribcage muscle. He returns after missing 17 games, but two weeks later was disabled with the neck issue and has been out a month.

Lilly will be a free agent after this season.

"I've thought about it. I've had a lot of down time to think," he said of his future. "I want to play if I can be effective. I'd like to play for a long time. I certainly don't want to be on the DL day after day. I'll play as long as I can, if I can be on the field."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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