Lilly expected to miss at least one start
Blue Jays left-hander dealing with biceps tendinitis
TORONTO -- The chain of command started in his shoulder and stopped at his head.
Ted Lilly could feel the pain in his pitching arm before his last start, but he willfully ignored it to take the mound. The southpaw explained his perspective on Tuesday, and he also confirmed his injury is a case of biceps tendinitis.
"The other day was a situation where I didn't want to press the panic button too early," said Lilly, who should miss at least one start. "Obviously, as a pitcher, you go through some times where you have some [discomfort] in your arm. There have been times where I didn't say anything, and then it's gone.
"Obviously, being around a lot of pitchers all the time, we all have something that doesn't quite feel perfect. You keep pitching and it tends to go away. The next thing you know, you feel great again."
That's not the way it worked out on Sunday, when Lilly retired 11 straight batters before stumbling in the fourth. The left-hander allowed four runs in that eventful inning, and he told the Blue Jays about the pain once he walked into the dugout. The only problem was, he felt it on Saturday and again when he warmed up before Sunday's start.
"Ideally, you want a guy to say something so you can protect him. But he didn't think it was serious enough," said John Gibbons, Toronto's manager. "In this business, you've always got aches and pains; everybody does. He was just thinking, 'You know what? I don't think it's any big deal. Go out there and don't make an issue out of it.' Then it started barking on him."
Lilly said the pain progressed through his outing, and eventually, it got so bad that he couldn't release his fastball without feeling some pain. However, he also said he wasn't sure he'd do things differently.
"In my mind, I was optimistic I'd get better, and I continued to get worse to the point that it became more than just discomfort," he said. "Now that I look back on it, I could've said something an inning or two prior to when I did. At the same point, I could've -- maybe, somehow -- gone another inning or two and then taken a couple days off. ... I'm glad I didn't go that way."
Lilly admitted that he had some concerns on Sunday night, but he said most of them have been alleviated from two days of rest and recuperation. He said he hopes the next few days will continue the healing effect, but he admitted that he's not sure when he'll get back on the mound.
"I'm going to rest for a couple days and then start strengthening my [scapula] and my rotator cuff again," Lilly said. "It's a little loose, and the doctors looked at it. There's a little bit of instability in my shoulder, but that's something I can strengthen with the trainers.
"At some point soon, I think I'll get out there and start playing catch again, see how it feels. I'm already starting to feel optimistic."
Gibbons, forever pragmatic, said he's not sure who would fill in for Lilly on Saturday -- his next scheduled turn in the rotation. However, the manager announced another pitching move: Scott Downs will move back into the rotation this week, spelling Pete Walker. Gibbons said he's not sure when Lilly will get back, but he's holding out hope that it will be next week.
"I think he's going to toss a little more [on Wednesday], see how it feels," Gibbons said. "I don't see him making his next start, but hopefully it won't be too much longer than that. The trainers will set him on something, but I think the rest will be how he feels tomorrow. If he's not feeling too bad, I think we can push him and hopefully get him back by the following week."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.