OAKLAND, Calif. -- Ted Lilly would have loved to keep pitching -- if his body would allow him to start every fifth day, and if he could stay off the disabled list.
Instead, the 37-year-old left-hander is retiring after 15 seasons because of further problems with his shoulder and back.
He went to winter ball in Venezuela this month with the hope his body would cooperate and he could find a major league job. But Lilly didn't feel right, and he made just one three-inning appearance during a 20-day stint in Valencia. He would have pitched again except he got food poisoning.
"It came to a point that, unfortunately, the reality set in where I was in terms of health and effectiveness," Lilly said by phone Friday. "Those combinations are what forced me to retire. If I felt I could still be productive and healthy, I would be playing, for sure. As of today, I don't think it's reasonable. I didn't believe I would be able to go out there and be productive and effective for a major league team and stay healthy to make 30 starts."
He returned home to California on Wednesday night, and looks forward to spending time with his wife and two young children.
A two-time All-Star, Lilly was 130-113 with a 4.14 ERA in parts of 15 major league seasons. He pitched for Montreal, Oakland, Toronto, the New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs and Dodgers.
He has struggled with the idea of retirement for months, even though his shoulder didn't recover well. Designated for assignment by the Dodgers -- the team that selected him in the 23rd round of the 1996 amateur draft -- on July 25, Lily first tried rest.