Casey Blake accuses Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly of cheating


Reporting from Chicago -- Casey Blake accused Ted Lilly of cheating on Thursday, trying unsuccessfully to persuade the umpires that the Chicago Cubs pitcher should have been cited for starting his windup on some pitches from in front of the rubber.

“I know he doesn’t have an overpowering fastball,” Blake said. “I know he’s trying to get as much of an edge as he can. But he moved in.

“That’s cheating. You’ve got to stay on the rubber.”

Lilly did not hesitate to fire back.

“Sometimes a batter will get in the box and he’ll step out, and behind the box, and on the lines,” Lilly said. “I don’t think he’s trying to cheat. It might not be intentional.”

By pitching from in front of the rubber, Lilly said, a pitcher would lose the leverage of pushing off the rubber. Any such deliveries were strictly inadvertent, he said.

“I might have done it a couple times, just trying to gain my footing,” he said.

After Blake had singled in the sixth inning of the Dodgers’ 1-0 loss to the Cubs, he said he noticed Lilly pitching from in front of the rubber. He asked first-base umpire John Hirschbeck to intervene. Within moments, first-base coach Mariano Duncan had to restrain the mild-mannered Blake.

“I got so fired up,” Blake said.

Hirschbeck, whom Blake called “a good umpire,” told Blake he could not see any violation from where he stood, behind the bag. Blake said he became angered when Hirschbeck declined to move up, warn Lilly or ask the other umpires for help.

“What’s going to keep a guy from pitching the whole game like that?” Blake said.

Hirschbeck said he did not need to ask the other umpires for help because they all are empowered to call such a violation should they see one, just as any umpire can call a balk. He also said it would have been impractical for him to move up.

“I can’t stand on top of the bag,” he said.

Hirschbeck said he told Duncan that he would not warn a Dodgers player for a violation he did not see the player commit and said he owed Lilly the same consideration.

“I can’t warn him for no reason,” Hirschbeck said.

Ethier in L.A.

The Dodgers expect to activate outfielder Andre Ethier when they open their homestand Monday, following a brief rehabilitation assignment.

Manager Joe Torre said Ethier would play for triple-A Albuquerque at Memphis on Friday and Saturday. If all goes well, Ethier would take Sunday off and rejoin the Dodgers on Monday at Dodger Stadium.

Miller time

The Dodgers designated Ramon Ortiz for assignment Thursday, replacing him on the roster by promoting reliever Justin Miller from Albuquerque.

Miller, 32, posted a 3.18 earned-run average in 44 games for the San Francisco Giants last season and a 2.22 ERA in 18 games at Albuquerque this season.

Torre also said the Dodgers probably will promote a pitcher Friday, which could put utility infielder Nick Green’s roster spot in jeopardy. The Dodgers currently have 11 pitchers.

“For the long haul, we’ll probably have 12,” Torre said.

Torre also said swingman Charlie Haeger will “probably join us shortly,” although not as soon as Friday. Haeger and fellow pitchers George Sherrill and Vicente Padilla all are expected to return from the disabled list within the next month.

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