Ted Lilly’s neck pain forced him off of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ roster and into the care of specialists this season. But even after a trying summer, the 37-year-old veteran of 15 MLB seasons is preparing to return to the MLB level by re-establishing his form in Venezuela.
Lilly visited a cervical spine specialist after dealing with neck pain and stiffness during a difficult season with the Dodgers. Those visits led to a procedure that cauterized the nerve endings on the right side of his neck. Though it’s not considered surgery, doctors used a large needle to burn the nerve endings on Lilly’s neck. So far it’s been working.
“That procedure has given him relief,” agent Larry O’Brien told sportsnet.ca.
Lilly, whose three-year $33 million contract expired this year, intends to pitch at the MLB level in 2014. The left-hander is currently pitching for the Navegantes del Magallanes in Venezuela to get some repetitions in and test his neck during the off-season. To prepare for 2014, Lilly aims to start approximately six games and log 35-40 innings in Venezuela alongside former MLB players such as Carlos Zambrano, Gustavo Chacin and Ramon Hernandez.
In five starts for the Dodgers this past season, Lilly posted a 5.09 ERA. Before getting released on August 3, he was placed on the disabled list three times and designated for assignment.
Lilly, who debuted with the Montreal Expos in 1999, spent three seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays. He posted a 4.52 ERA in Toronto from 2004-06, earning the first of his two career all-star selections.
The 1996 draft pick has a 4.14 ERA with 1,681 strikeouts and a 130-113 record in his 15-year MLB career. If Lilly has his way, he’ll add a 16th season to his resume next year.