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.”