07/04/11 9:22 PM ET
Lilly won't blame tender elbow for struggles
By Ken Gurnick and AJ Cassavell / MLB.com
"It's been off and on for a while, but I don't think that's necessarily why I haven't been pitching well," the 35-year-old left-hander said. "Some of it is location. It all goes together because you don't have the normal feel of your pitches. I do believe I can pitch through it."
Manager Don Mattingly revealed Lilly's condition when he announced Saturday that the starting rotation would be juggled, rookie Rubby De La Rosa swapping spots with Lilly and starting Monday night.
Lilly has a 7.01 ERA in five June starts. On the season, he's allowed a team-high 16 home runs. Overall, he's 5-8 with a 4.97 ERA.
Because of the discomfort, he missed several between-starts bullpen sessions. He took the extra day between starts this time so his elbow could handle a bullpen session Saturday. He said there's "a fine line" between throwing enough to make mechanical adjustments and throwing too much to irritate the elbow.
"I'm not walking guys because the ball is the size of a basketball to the hitters, so they're not swinging and missing," he said. "They seem to be seeing the breaking ball. I need to figure out what I have to do to make the ball look smaller. It's about timing, arm slot, release point. You get all of that right, and you get back in the right frame of mind.
"When you've gotten beat up, you have to battle those doubts that start creeping in. You've got the physical side, then the mental side. I have to get both straightened out. My guess is, there's a large number of players that have [elbow] issues like I have, you just don't know about it."
Dodgers call up Velez to replace Gordon
LOS ANGELES -- Utility man Eugenio Velez, whose long-shot bid to make the Dodgers out of Spring Training was derailed by a badly sprained ankle, had his contract purchased by the club Monday and replaced Dee Gordon on the active roster.
Velez is expected to play infield and outfield, particularly the latter with Marcus Thames still insufficiently healed from a strained calf to handle the necessary running of outfield play.
In fact, manager Don Mattingly said Thames -- and possibly Juan Uribe -- will have a "tryout camp" at first base to back up starter James Loney. Casey Blake had been the right-handed backup at first, but he went onto the disabled list Sunday for the third time in 2011, this time with an arthritic neck.
Velez, 29, has spent parts of the past four seasons with the rival Giants. It took six weeks for his ankle to heal, but he had become a starter for Triple-A Albuquerque, playing both the infield and outfield. Velez was hitting .339 in 55 games for the Isotopes.
Barajas' return from sprained ankle delayed
LOS ANGELES -- Rod Barajas' recovery from a sprained ankle he suffered June 18 is taking longer than expected.
The Dodgers catcher would have been eligible to return from the disabled list Monday, and initially many thought that would be all the time he'd need.
But Barajas has struggled with quick movements and is still at least a couple days away from returning.
"It seems like he kind of went back a little bit," manager Don Mattingly said. "He tried to block the other day and it caused a little bit of a setback."
Barajas, who is hitting .220 with eight homers and 21 RBIs, injured his ankle chasing down a wild pitch and was immediately removed from the game.
Dodgers honor military on Fourth of July
LOS ANGELES -- Dodger Stadium had no shortage of Fourth of July celebrations and ceremonies.
Before Monday's game against the Mets, soldiers unfurled a giant American flag as a pair of veterans had the opportunity to throw out a first pitch.
Marine Sgt. Alan S. Michaels was chosen to throw the ceremonial first pitch. In November, Michaels stepped on an improvised explosive device while under fire from an ambush by Taliban forces.
Michaels had commanded his troops and organized a base of fire before stepping on the device and being medevaced from the area. He is still recovering from injuries he sustained that day, and he was awarded the Purple Heart and his second Combat Action Ribbon.
In nominating Michaels, his wife, Stephanie, wrote:
"I truly feel he is a hero and deserves to be honored. My husband is a very modest man. He does not feel he is a hero in any way, just a man who loves his job his country and was simply doing his job to help protect America."
Minutes before, Sherman Watson, a former marine and a member of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, threw out the honorary first pitch. Watson was deployed to Iraq three times, earning three Purple Hearts and a Navy Acheivement Medal.
After the game, the Dodgers were to put on a fireworks show, which the organization is calling "The Best Fireworks Celebration in Los Angeles."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter and AJ Cassavell is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.