Chicago Cubs starter Ted Lilly is recovering from shoulder surgery, and despite the team throwing up yield signs, Lilly is showing no signs of slowing down in his recovery. After throwing 30 pitches off the mound on Sunday, Lilly is ready to throw 35 today.

He’s feeling so good, he says he wants to get into a Spring Training game.

“I’m going to try to get out there and compete soon,” Lilly said Tuesday. “At the end of the day, it’s their call, but I’d certainly like to face some competition soon. I think I’ll be able to get ready to pitch in a game fairly soon. It’s hard to give any dates.”

Lilly is not projected to join the Cubs’ rotation until mid-April or early May.

“I think towards the end of Spring Training, it’s a very distinct possibility [he’ll get in a game],” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. “He’s coming along well. I would think that before we leave here, Teddy will pitch in a ballgame.

“The important thing is to have him continue to progress the way he has. We’re hoping he’s well enough along the way that we can pitch him at the end of Spring Training and go from there.”

Lilly does know that he needs to build up stamina and arm strength.

“It’s still a day-to-day kind of thing,” said Lilly, who was 12-9 with a 3.10 ERA in 27 starts last season. “I anticipate gradual progress, and we’ll see how we go. As far as my shoulder, I’ve felt great. I haven’t felt anything that says I need to slow down.” cubs.com.

It’s important to note that, even if Lilly makes it into a Spring Training game, that doesn’t mean he’ll be ready at the start of the season. It will, however, give us a good idea of where he’s at, and will undoubtedly be a great sign. Ted Lilly is as important to the Chicago Cubs as any player, so a swift – but more importantly, fully-recovered – return could be a boon to the team’s 2010 chances.


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