Ted Lilly’s offseason has been one of surprise and fear.
For Cubs fans.
When the Chicago Cubs announced that Lilly had undergone a minor shoulder surgery in November, it seemed to come out of nowhere. Some knee issues had been reported, but nothing more than a mention of knee stiffness here and there had been discussed at length. So when Lilly decided to have his shoulder cleaned up at the same time he was having his knee cleaned up, it caught us all by surprise.
Which led to the fear. Lilly had been the Cubs’ best starter in 2009, and shoulder surgery, no matter how euphemistically described, is never a good thing for a pitcher. At best, Lilly is expected to miss the first month of the season, and even then, only if he was able to start throwing in January. Well, it’s January, and Ted Lilly is throwing a baseball.
Lilly — the Cubs’ lone All-Star in 2009, when he went 12-9 with a 3.10 ERA in 27 starts — worked out at Northwestern University with pitching coach Larry Rothschild and some of his teammates. They are in town to take part in the 25th Cubs Convention, which opened Friday at the Chicago Hilton.
“It was a nice, moderate day of catch,” Lilly said. “I played catch with [prospect] Andrew Cashner. His arm definitely looks healthier than mine.”
Lilly had the procedure performed on Nov. 3 and was expected to miss the first month of the 2010 regular season. He said the time off has made him appreciate the game even more.
“I cherish this dream I had as a little kid to play baseball,” Lilly said. “I want to do it, and when you have something come up like shoulder surgery, you’re in a situation where you feel like if you don’t do everything you can, it could be taken away from you. I’m not ready for that.
“I’m going to do everything that’s in my control to not allow that to happen.”
Lilly hasn’t extended his throwing too much.
“It feels good to move it around,” Lilly said. “It’s a catch-22. If I don’t [move it], it gets stiffer.
“There have been no setbacks and no reason to slow down.” cubs.com.
All good news. Manager Lou Piniella said at the Cubs Convention that the team trainers believe Lilly is still on schedule for a May 1 return. In the interim, the Cubs will use some combination of Sean Marshall, Tom Gorzelanny, Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Silva, and early-season off days in the fourth and fifth spot in the rotation.
Hopefully the Cubs’ early season performance gives Lilly no reason to rush back.