09/29/05 7:55 PM ET
Notes: Lilly disappointed in season
Veteran southpaw wanted to help Jays to better record
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
It takes a couple starts and stops to phrase it precisely, but eventually the southpaw comes to a frank and inevitable conclusion. In this case, the person in question agrees with the public perception.
"To put it very mildly, I'm disappointed in the way I've gone out there and competed," Lilly said Wednesday after his last start of the season. "I guess, coming into this year, I just expected us to be competitive in this league. And [I expected] myself to really make a push to help us do that."
To be fair, injuries played a large part in his inability to meet those goals. Lilly missed all of Spring Training with a case of shoulder tendinitis, and when he came back, he clearly wasn't ready to pitch in the big leagues.
The former All-Star went 3-5 with a 7.60 ERA in his first 10 starts, and he was unable to provide the Blue Jays with a fitting early-season complement to Roy Halladay. Lilly turned things around after that, but right when he did, he got hit by another arm injury.
Lilly came back to add two more wins in September, but all in all, it added up to a forgettable season.
"Consistency is the key to anybody. And he's been around long enough. He's capable of that," said Toronto manager John Gibbons. "It's been a frustrating year for him. [A] slow start, then [he] kind of kicked it in gear. Since he's been back, it's been hit or miss."
"Really, my expectations were to just give us a chance," said Lilly, who finished the season with a 10-11 record. "I feel like I've put so much pressure on the offense for much of the season. When I go out there and I'm out there giving up a lot of early runs, it makes it extremely difficult on our guys.
"A lot of times, they feel that pressure."
So what can he take from the experience? Lilly said he can take a few lessons from Josh Towers, who took a huge step forward in the consistency department this season. Towers may not be gifted with the biggest fastball or the best-breaking curve, but he throws strikes every night -- even when he doesn't have his best stuff.
"I think, in the past, I've tried to pitch on stuff," said Lilly, underlining the point. "There have been games where I've gone out there this year where my stuff hasn't been that good, and I haven't been able to keep us in games. I've learned that I've got to be able to do that, regardless of if my stuff isn't there.
"By locating, I can be able to do that, [even] if I may be off a little that night."
Two more for the road: One day after the Blue Jays learned that Shea Hillenbrand and Orlando Hudson were done for the year, they came to the same conclusion on two other members of their roster.
Right-handed reliever Justin Speier won't pitch again after tearing a tendon in his pitching hand, and southpaw specialist Scott Schoeneweis may have pitched his last game due to general fatigue. Schoeneweis got six outs in Wednesday's doubleheader and leads the American League with 80 appearances, which led Gibbons to look out for his future.
"We've got to keep an eye on Schoeney," said Gibbons. "There's only like four games left, but we've got to think about next year. It doesn't mean we won't [use him], but we don't want to have to."
As for Speier, he was wearing a removable splint on his hand Wednesday and underwent some tests to determine the extent of his injury. On Thursday, he said he won't need surgery to correct the problem.
"It's a weird injury. Unfortunate," Speier said. "I heard a pop, felt some swelling, some numbness.
"I just need rest and rehab. It should be fine in three weeks."
Short rest: The Blue Jays will give one more start to Dave Bush, whose last outing got pushed back a day because of Monday's rainout. He'll be working on less rest than usual, but with the limited nature of Toronto's bullpen, he was more or less the only option.
"You don't like to have to do it, but this is going to be his last start," said Gibbons. "Hopefully, you get five [innings]."
Bush (5-11) is the only Toronto starter that hasn't reached a double-digit victory total. The last time the team had four 10-game winners was 2000, when David Wells (20), Chris Carpenter (10), Kelvim Escobar (10) and Frank Castillo (10) did it.
Quotable: "It's some kind of irritation. The trainers will tell you, but he's done for the year. He's just better off not throwing -- so we [have] dwindling numbers." -- Gibbons, talking about Speier's injury
Coming up: The Blue Jays head home Friday for the final series of the season. Kansas City comes to town for the final engagement, and the series opener will feature Towers (12-12, 3.83 ERA) against Zach Greinke (5-16, 5.58 ERA). Before his last outing, Towers had thrown 12 straight quality starts -- a streak that was snapped by a seventh-inning homer in Yankee Stadium.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.