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Lilly to miss start with neck issue

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers left-hander Ted Lilly will be scratched from Sunday's start against the Braves because of a chronic neck disc issue. He most likely will be replaced by Triple-A Albuquerque's Matt Magill, although the club has not made any announcement.

Meanwhile, injured outfielder Matt Kemp is reported to be on schedule to return on June 14 from a "mild right hamstring strain."

Lilly was hampered in his last start by the neck problem and didn't throw his normally scheduled between-starts bullpen session Thursday. He threw Friday, but with continued discomfort. Manager Don Mattingly said earlier Friday that if Lilly couldn't take the ball, a Minor Leaguer would be called up.

"He's going to have to give us more assurance than he thinks he'll be OK," said Mattingly. "He has to be fairly certain he can go out and compete."

There aren't many obvious choices to replace Lilly beyond Magill, who had a nightmare start in Denver replacing the injured Hyun-Jin Ryu on Sunday. But Magill is the most experienced Minor Leaguer on the 40-man roster and is listed as Albuquerque's Sunday starter, so he is lined up to fill in if needed. Former first-round pick Zach Lee pitched for Double-A Chattanooga Friday night and is not in the mix.

"Magill has thrown a few 'pens down there to help 'detox,'" Mattingly said of the right-hander's rebound from the emotional disappointment of last Sunday's loss, when he allowed seven runs on five hits and nine walks in six innings. "He's a tough kid, and I think he recognized his rough start as a learning situation."

If Magill replaces Lilly, it would mean back-to-back starts for rookies Stephen Fife and Magill, neither of them among the eight established starters the Dodgers brought to Spring Training when they thought they had a surplus of rotation candidates.

Meanwhile, Mattingly said Kemp would return to Los Angeles from Arizona over the weekend and play a rehab game before his expected return. Mattingly said he was "fairly confident" Kemp would be activated the first day he is eligible to return from the disabled list.

With Yasiel Puig writing history in right field, Andre Ethier has moved to center, and Mattingly said Ethier has done better than get by.

"I've always felt he gets the best read and jump of our outfielders," Mattingly said. "I'm very comfortable with him there. The play he made on Simmons [Thursday] night, he made it look easy. I told him today how good he looks out there. I think he enjoys playing it, honestly."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for
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