Following an injury-riddled 2013 season, free agent left-hander Ted Lilly announced his retirement to a Venezeulan newspaper on Wednesday. Lilly, 37, was in Venezuela attempting to regain his form and confidence after having the nerve endings on the right side of his neck cauterized by a spine specialist, but only made one ineffective start on Nov. 20 before deciding to hang up the cleats.
Lilly's ailments severely limited his effectiveness and resulted in three trips to the disabled list during the regular season before the Los Angeles Dodgers released him in August. He finished 0-2 with a 5.09 ERA in five starts. His hope in the offseason was to prove he was healthy and earn a chance to extend his career in 2014, and then write a different ending. His body just wouldn't cooperate.
"I don't feel I can get back to being the pitcher I was a few years ago," Lilly told El Universal.
Lilly finishes with a 130-113 career record and a 4.14 ERA over 1,982.2 career innings. He spent time with the Montreal Expos, New York Yankees, Oakland A's, Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago Cubs before being traded to the Dodgers on July 31, 2010. That's covering a lot of ground, but according to Lilly there was one stop that stood out above the others.
“My first two years with the Cubs were the best of my career,” Lilly said. “I was effective and on a good team, and Chicago was a great city to play in."
He's talking about the back-to-back division championship teams from 2007 and 2008 that seemed destined to make deep runs in the postseason, but ultimately faltered in the NLDS. Lilly only made one postseason start over those two seasons, and that game featured his classic glove spike after he allowed a three-run homer to Chris Young of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Lilly also made four postseason appearances with the A's earlier in his career, but his teams never advanced beyond the LDS round.
Though he may not have accomplished all of his goals or walked away in a way he'd always envisioned, Lilly still has a lot to hang his hat on. He was a two-time all-star. He won 10 or more games in nine consecutive seasons. And perhaps most importantly, he made $80 million over his career.
Post-baseball life doesn't sound so bad when placed in that perspective, but we still wish Ted Lilly well as he moves on to the next phase of his life.
- - - - - - -