Chicago Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly is now officially delayed in his return to the Cubs’ rotation. Rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery (and earlier knee surgery), Lilly’s timeline has fluctuated between as early as mid-April and as late as mid-May. For a while, it seem mid-April would be no problem – but now, the latter time is looking like a frightening possibility.

Persistent back soreness has delayed Lilly’s next minor-league rehab start for the second time. Originally scheduled for Friday, that start at Class AAA Iowa won’t happen until at least Wednesday — depending how Lilly feels in a bullpen session at Wrigley Field on Monday.

“It’s a little setback,” said Piniella, who on Friday had entertained the possibility of Lilly making only one more rehab start — instead of the two that were left on his schedule — and then going straight into the Cubs’ rotation during this week’s homestand.

Not only does the back problem eliminate that outside shot, but the new schedule suggests a return for Lilly no earlier than April 24 in Milwaukee, barring any further setback.

“I would think we get him a nice, crisp game this time out and then lengthen him out the next time,” Piniella said. “That’s the best scenario.

I’ve talked to the trainer and the pitching coach to verify.

From my experience, that’s probably the safest and most prudent thing to do, early in the year.” CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.

Obviously no one wants to see the Cubs rush Lilly’s return, and the starting rotation might be ok in his absence, but the bullpen could certainly use the boost that Lilly’s return will provide.

Ultimately, if things go well this week, this setback pushes Lilly’s return date back a week, which gives Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny one more start to show which of them should remain in the rotation.



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