GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Cory Sullivan loves baseball more than almost anything, but he walked away from the game last June for the one thing he places above the game.
While in the middle of a divorce while playing for the Phillies' Triple-A team at Lehigh Valley and batting .210, Sullivan told manager Ryne Sandberg that he was going home to spend time with 4½-year-old Riley.
"When I made the decision, I didn't think I'd come back to baseball," said Sullivan, whose game-winning grand slam on Saturday night came as he's battling for a bench role with the Dodgers. "My thirst for the game was never gone. When I left, in the back of my mind, I thought I might not get the chance to return. But going home was an easy decision for me. There are things bigger than baseball."
Sullivan, 32, spent the rest of the summer being Dad.
"We played a lot," he said. "I felt like I should be there for her. It was time well spent. She's doing great."
With peace of mind restored, Sullivan decided to resume his career, accepting a Minor League contract from the Dodgers.
"I just want to show I'm capable and ready," he said. "The Dodgers called early, and I'm happy to be with an organization that has a chance to win the [National League] West."
Sullivan has more than four years of Major League service, but he topped out as a rookie with Colorado, batting .294 in 139 games in 2005 after missing 2004 recovering from Tommy John surgery. He was struck with the sophomore jinx in 2006 and it has been a struggle ever since, but by hitting .455 so far, he's on the radar.
"I kind of like him," said manager Don Mattingly. "He's got a good idea at the plate. He knows who he is. I don't know a whole lot about him, but he's shown he knows how to play. I've moved him from left to center to right. When you look at where we're at [with a full outfield], he doesn't really fit in that plan. But he knows what he's doing."
Offseason program paying off for Lilly
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Ted Lilly rebounded from his ineffective spring debut with three scoreless innings in Sunday's 5-0 win over his former team, the Cubs.
"I approached it more like a regular-season game," said Lilly, who five days earlier allowed five runs and didn't get out of the second inning. "I used all of my pitches. Only the slider today was very ineffective. My changeup was better."
Lilly, who was sick and behind schedule last Spring Training and got off to a slow start in the regular season but finished strong, threw more during the offseason but with less intensity.
"I wanted to be more effective coming out of the gate," he said. "I put us in some tough spots early in the year. It stinks to ask the bullpen to pick you up and the offense to play from behind."
Manager Don Mattingly spoke to Lilly before the end of last season about adjusting his winter preparation to allow for a better spring.
"He's a lot sharper this year than last year," Mattingly said. "He's more down in the zone, [throwing] more quality pitches with finish on them. That's what we were hoping for this camp. It's the first time in a few years he's not rehabbing, and he can get after it. Before he left we talked about him getting off to a better start."
Dodgers' relief corps off to rollicking start
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The six relievers most likely to make the Opening Day pitching staff are off to a pretty good start.
Javy Guerra, Kenley Jansen, Scott Elbert, Matt Guerrier, Mike MacDougal and Todd Coffey have each pitched two scoreless innings, one each by Guerrier, MacDougal and Coffey in Sunday's 5-0 win over the Cubs. For the spring, the six have allowed a combined six hits, with nine walks and 13 strikeouts.
Although the Sunday line on Guerrier looks the worst -- three walks and a strikeout -- manager Don Mattingly sees significant improvement over his form from last spring, when he struggled with adjusting to a new environment after signing a three-year, $12 million contract.
"He's really throwing the ball well for me," said Mattingly. "He's got a sharper look to him. His stuff has a lot of movement. It seems different. You can just tell by the quality of pitches."
Mattingly has no complaints with any of the six.
"Right now it looks good," he said. "It's spring. We're winning games this year. Last year we weren't swinging the bats. I don't really know what it means. Last year we weren't hitting, and we said it didn't matter, and we started slow. We're just trying to get ready. But I do like to put wins on the board."
Ethier, Sellers put ailments behind them
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Outfielder Andre Ethier and infielder Justin Sellers resumed workouts on Sunday, an indication that their Saturday ailments were relatively minor.
Ethier left the field with a recurrence of stiffness in the middle of his back, which he originally experienced on the day of the first full-squad workout and which manager Don Mattingly said developed from moving boxes before Spring Training started.
Ethier had already been scheduled to skip Sunday's game, but he played catch and took batting practice beforehand, and he is scheduled to start Monday's game against the Angels in Tempe, Ariz.
"It doesn't sound like he's restricted in any way," said Mattingly. "[Trainer Sue Falcone] has worked on him for this before. She doesn't seem too concerned. I'm probably a little more than she is. We'll be cautious. There's no need to rush him."
Sellers, who developed headaches after being hit in the chin by a bouncing batted ball on Saturday, sported a small bruise but said that the headaches are gone, and he was in the starting lineup for Sunday's game with the Cubs.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.