LOS ANGELES The narrative made Ted Lilly a key figure in the Ryan Dempster trade drama, which is ironic, because as he said, even my exciting is boring.
Lilly delivered that line because he couldnt understand why a reporter would want to shoot him with a flip camera at his locker. Well, Dempster had to answer questions about his future for weeks, and his first choice by far was to play with Lilly again.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer took a vow of silence before the deadline, but did a media tour once Dempster was property of the Texas Rangers. The Cubs executives said they respected those 10-and-5 no-trade rights dont blame Dempster while subtly pointing out how he held them up by insisting on the Los Angeles Dodgers and killing a deal with the Atlanta Braves.
Lilly, a cerebral pitcher with a dry sense of humor, hadnt really given his side of the story yet. Lilly said he talked to Dempster a little bit, but didnt become a recruiter.
I kind of let him call me, Lilly said Saturday. I just imagined that he had a lot of people probably pulling him in different directions. Obviously, he was one of the prized pitching targets out there for a lot of clubs. So Im sure that besides myself there were a lot of guys that would like to have added him (to their) team.
The Dodgers needed pitching help because Lilly (5-1, 3.14 ERA) has been on the disabled list since late May with left shoulder inflammation. They wound up getting right-hander Joe Blanton on Friday from the Philadelphia Phillies for cash.
The Dodgers let the Cubs know which of their pitching prospects were off-limits, but otherwise the two sides didnt really get close. Lilly said he didnt lobby the front office on Dempsters behalf.
Ryan has a pretty good reputation around the league, Lilly said. I dont think that he needs me or anybody else to vouch for his character and his work ethic and what hes all about. I think hes been in the league long enough to where people kind of know that hes a hard-working, dedicated professional.
Dempster took out a full-page ad in Fridays Chicago Tribune thanking Cubs fans and the city for supporting the team and his charitable foundation. But the way it ended didnt help his image.
Lilly was a Cubs union rep before being traded to Los Angeles at the 2010 deadline.
Whats the point of 10-5 rights? Lilly said. Why would we want to have that in play, if its never going to be used? Or if the clubs still going to obviously try to do whats best for them, (why should) a player (catch) a lot of heat for it?
You have a full no-trade. It kind of puts the player in a tough spot in that regard. (Dempsters) pretty grateful to the Chicago fans and definitely at the same time wants the Cubs organization to get better, too.
Dempster and Lilly were teammates for almost four years and played on teams that won back-to-back division titles in 2007 and 2008. They pushed each other between starts and became particularly close after Dempsters daughter Riley was born with DiGeorge syndrome. Lilly hopes theyll be teammates again.
Dempster will be a free agent at seasons end and the Dodgers figure to be at the top of the list. This is a National League team that plays in a pitchers park and trains in Arizona, where Dempster has a home. There is great tradition and a chance to win a World Series.
Lilly who loved playing in Chicago and desperately wanted to be part of the team that finally won it was asked if Cubs fans will have the patience to see a total rebuild: Theyve had patience for the last 102, 103 years or whatever, so Id imagine.
A reporter corrected the number and Lilly responded: Is that what it is? 104? Whos counting? Its been awhile.