Daily Distractions: Cardinals need a starter; Astros need a dime; happy birthday Hank.

Chris  CarpenterSt. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter is expected to miss the entire 2013 season and may be forced to retire due to a series of injuries.

The 37-year-old was bothered by a nerve issue in his shoulder that limited him to five games last season. Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said Carpenter currently has health concerns in his right shoulder, arm and neck.

Significantly for the Dodgers, who have a surplus of starters one week before pitchers and catchers are expected to report for spring training, the GM added that he’s “comfortable” with his starting rotation as it’s composed. Adam Wainwright, Jake Westbrook, Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller are the right-handers; Jaime Garcia is the lone left-hander but he’s questionable to start the season because of an elbow injury.

Free agent right-hander Kyle Lohse went 16-3 for the Cardinals last season and would be a sensible replacement. If Mozeliak decides one lefty starter isn’t enough, he might end up calling Ned Colletti, who has two veteran southpaws (Chris Capuano and Ted Lilly)  entering camp with no assurance of a spot in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Lilly has health concerns too – he’s 37 and hasn’t pitched a major-league game since May 23 of last year – and is coming off arthroscopic shoulder surgery in September.

The circumstances seem ripe for a trade, but it will hinge on both GM’s sense of urgency. Publicly, Colletti and Mozeliak say they’re in no rush to resolve their rotation situations, but we’ll see if that changes.

Onto the links …

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Poll: Who makes the Dodgers’ opening-day bullpen?

We don’t have confirmation yet, but if the Dodgers wind up signing Peter Moylan (as has been reported), the competition for the final spot out of the bullpen becomes interesting.

Update: Moylan confirmed that he’s joining the Dodgers via Twitter:

 

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Poll: Which Dodger will have the biggest bounceback in 2013?

One of my favorite stats from 2012 was this: Eight major-league teams used 50 or more players last season. Most fell into the category of underachievers, or at least underdogs: Boston (56), Toronto (54), Chicago Cubs (53), San Diego (53), Baltimore (52), Houston (50), Oakland (50) …

… And then there were the Dodgers, clocking in at an even 50 players. It was a combination of trades and injuries that brought the Dodgers to 50, all of which factored into their falling short of the playoffs, and left several players hungry for a big bounceback in 2013.

Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Ted Lilly are coming back from surgery. Chad Billingsley is coming back from an injury, at least the team hopes. Juan Uribe is Juan Uribe.

Who will rebound the most?

Ted Lilly’s season is over.

After months of waiting, the Dodgers finally shut down Ted Lilly for the season Friday. The 36-year-old pitcher will have arthroscopic surgery on his left (throwing) shoulder a week from today; the surgery will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Head athletic trainer Sue Falsone said that, barring any unexpected discoveries, Lilly will be able to resume throwing in January and can begin his spring training program on time.

“Ideally it is a simple cleanup procedure,” Falsone said. “Obviously the doctor won’t exactly know what he will or will not do until he gets inside the joint, but that’s the plan as of now.”

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Bullpen about to get a boost.

Not that it needs much help, but the Dodgers’ bullpen is about to get bigger.

Left-hander Scott Elbert, on the disabled list since Aug. 29 with inflammation in his left elbow, is scheduled to throw a simulated game tomorrow. It could be the final tuneup he needs before returning to action.

“If he’s good,” manager Don Mattingly said, “we’ll probably roll with him.”

Randy Choate and Paco Rodriguez are currently the only healthy left-handers in the Dodger bullpen. Choate has appeared in 26 of the Dodgers’ 44 games since he arrived in a trade with Miami, which projects to a 96-game pace over a full season. That’s not grounds for overuse when you’re only facing one or two batters a game, but having another veteran left-hander to complement the rookie Rodriguez will only benefit Choate.

Kenley Jansen, meanwhile, is scheduled to meet with a doctor tomorrow to get “final clearance” to resume practicing with the team. Because he’s been taking prescription blood thinners, Jansen has been unable to take the field –anywhere he could be struck by a batted ball. He could pitch as early as Tuesday in Washington.

The news was bad (again) for left-hander Ted Lilly, whose simulated game Thursday was cancelled. He’s expected to meet with a doctor tonight. It’s unclear what the medical reason was but Mattingly said that it’s “not necessarily a setback.” Lilly hasn’t pitched since May 23.

In their last eight innings dating to Saturday, Dodger relievers have not allowed a run.

Ted Lilly to throw simulated inning Wednesday.

Ted Lilly will throw a simulated 15-pitch inning Wednesday as the left-hander continues to push for a return before the end of the season. Lilly has been on the disabled list since May 24, alternately bothered by shoulder and back injuries, and hasn’t pitched in a rehabilitation game since Aug. 16.

Don Mattingly said he would welcome Lilly back this season as a reliever, as the Dodgers only have one healthy left-hander in their bullpen, Randy Choate. Scott Elbert is also on the disabled list with inflammation in his left elbow.

Since Lilly has had numerous setbacks, it may take more than a couple days to know how much progress he’s actually made.

Lilly throws pain-free, Billingsley ‘optimistic.’

Two injured pitchers nudged forward in their recoveries Sunday:

Chad Billingsley is considering having a second platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection in his right elbow. Manager Don Mattingly said that the right-hander “seemed a little bit optimistic,” but cautioned that there is still no timetable for Billingsley to resume throwing because he isn’t pain-free.

Ted Lilly, meanwhile, threw 20 pitches off the bullpen mound Saturday and reported no pain afterward. Lilly’s next step has yet to be determined, though Mattingly mentioned the possibility of a simulated game if Lilly continues to throw without pain. “I’m not quite sure where all this is going,” Mattingly said. “His shoulder feels good … his back feels better.”

Ted Lilly’s next rehab start is in jeopardy; Billingsley’s outlook hazy.

Ted Lilly and Matt Guerrier were scheduled to continue their rehab assignments by pitching tomorrow and Wednesday for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.

Lilly’s outing is in jeopardy, however, after manager Don Mattingly said the left-handed pitcher “didn’t look real good” after a workout Sunday morning.

“I’m thinking Teddy’s not going to make his start,” Mattingly said. “He felt something … I think in his back or something.”

Lilly’s rehabilitation has been up and down. Initially bothered by elbow stiffness, he didn’t face live hitters in a game between May 23 and a July 29 rehab start for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga. After a brief setback, Lilly tossed one inning for the Quakes on Aug. 14 and two more innings two days later.

He hasn’t faced live hitting since, so if Lilly is able to return to the Dodgers before the end of the season, it will be out of the bullpen.
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Lilly to DL, will miss Tuesday’s start.

Ted Lilly was placed on the disabled list retroactive to May 24 with inflammation in his left shoulder Monday. The left-hander figures to miss at least two starts, including his next scheduled outing Tuesday against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Michael Antonini was recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque to take Lilly’s spot on the active roster, but he will only pitch if the Dodgers need a long reliever tonight. Right-hander Nate Eovaldi is expected to be recalled from Double-A Chattanooga to make his first major-league start of the season Tuesday.

Eovaldi pitched only one inning out of the bullpen Saturday for the Lookouts, which served as the best hint that the Dodgers would need him on short notice.

“Since he’s not in the building,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said, “I shouldn’t be talking about tomorrow’s starter.”

Lilly said he first noticed pain in the shoulder after his start against the St. Louis Cardinals on May 18. The 36-year-old made his next start five days later against the Arizona Diamondbacks and was shelled for eight runs in 3 1/3 innings as the Dodgers lost, 11-4.

“When I felt the most (pain) is when I came out of (that) game,” Lilly said.

The injury wasn’t serious enough to warrant an MRI, but Lilly said he had a non-steroidal cortisone injection after the team returned home.

In his second full season with the Dodgers, Lilly is 5-1 with a 3.14 ERA –it was under 2.00 before his last start –and 31 strikeouts in 48 2/3 innings this season. Lilly began the season on the disabled list with stiffness in his neck, but said this injury is unrelated.

“You get off to a good start and you have the expectations of trying to make the all-star team,” he said. “This definitely is going to make that a very difficult thing to do. I’m going to miss some time. I already missed one start early in the year. I don’t know what else I could’ve done differently to try and prevent it.”
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