As we guessed a couple days ago, Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella has confirmed that if pitcher Ted Lilly sticks to his current schedule, he’d miss just two starts in April. Lilly, recovering from off-season shoulder surgery (and a knee-pain setback, and a viral setback), will throw to live batters for the first time on Thursday.

If all goes well on Thursday, Lilly will next throw a simulated game — or “assimilated game,” as Piniella calls it — then start in a Cactus League game. Lilly will stay back in Arizona when the big league team breaks camp to get more work in.

“Larry [Rothschild, pitching coach] seems to think three starts will be enough,” Piniella said. “That’s why we’re optimistic.”

If the lefty does that, he could be in the Cubs’ rotation by mid to late April.

The three starts to which Lou was referring, if you’re doing the math, is one Cactus League start, and then two rehab starts – which would be the two starts he would miss with the big league club.

  • Kevin G

    Ace do you think that it is possible that Lilly, D-Lee and theriot could be traded at the dealine if the cubs are out of it?

    • Ace

      You’ve definitely identified three of the most tradeable players. I can see reasons for trading each, but the Cubs have never been a slash and burn type of team in the last 10 years. Theriot would only be traded if Castro is ready to go AND the second base situation is looking good.

  • brian

    I just want to say I’m a little worried about rushing Lilly back, I know we’re going to need him but I would much rather have him 100% in May then risk him hurting himself trying to get back April

    • Ace

      I’m worried about it, too (always am), but there’s no way the Cubs will rush Lilly. He’s too valuable.