How the World Baseball Classic helped Ted Lilly.

Here’s one side effect of the World Baseball Classic its founders didn’t foresee:

When California native Ted Lilly was chosen to pitch for the United States in the 2009 WBC, he had to begin his off-season throwing regimen earlier out of necessity. The first games were March 5 — roughly the same time most spring training games begin. His stats in the tournament (2 start, 6 1/3 IP, 4 ER) were nothing special but the season that followed was, especially in comparison to the year before:

Record Pct ERA G GS IP Hits HR BB K
2008 17 - 9 .654 4.09 34 34 204.2 187 32 64 184
2009 12 - 9 .571 3.10 27 27 177.0 151 22 36 151

So the left-hander began throwing earlier every off-season since.

“I’ve started to throw more off the mound, but I throw lighter in terms of effort,” Lilly said, noting he had two throwing sessions before he arrived at Camelback Ranch this year.

Lilly tossed three shutout innings Sunday against his former team, the Cubs, a marked improvement compared to his rocky first outing against the Giants.

One stat that you may have noticed above: Lilly made seven fewer starts in 2009 than he did in 2008. He bounced back to make 30 starts in 2010 and 33 in 2011, his first full season with the Dodgers.

“I take pride in answering the bell every five days,” he said, “but I want to be more effective coming out of the gate.”

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.