The recovery timeline for Chicago Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly has changed more often than Lindsay Lohan’s sexuality (ba dum ching).
At present, the lefty is set to throw a rehab start for AAA Iowa on Wednesday, and then he might be back soon thereafter, despite a sore back that has slowed his readiness for the season following shoulder surgery.
Lilly was to have pitched last Friday for Triple-A Iowa, but he was scratched because of stiffness in his back.
“I pitched in the Minor League game [April 4], felt good, threw the ball good,” Lilly said on Monday. “I came out of it and was a little bit stiff, and didn’t think too much of it and woke up the next day and was stiff. I tried to throw a bullpen [session] on Tuesday, and I couldn’t rotate. The more I moved, the worse it got.
“It’s mid-back muscle tightness, and it got to the point where I didn’t have any rotation. Obviously, I couldn’t throw a baseball. Unfortunately, it’s one of those things that takes a while.”
Lilly, who was 12-9 with a 3.10 ERA last season, is rehabbing from arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder, which he had in November. The shoulder hasn’t been a problem, as Lilly missed time this spring because of the flu and recently has been slowed because of his back.
“I’ve been fortunate that way — my shoulder and elbow and everything has been good,” Lilly said. “I’ve felt great, to be honest. It’s been some of the other things that have curtailed my progress.”
As for his rehab start, Lilly said he’d prefer to face more experienced hitters and pitch for Triple-A Iowa. Manager Lou Piniella said after Monday’s game that Lilly would start for the Iowa team and was expected to throw about 60 pitches.
“The way I’ve been throwing the ball, I feel like I’ve gotten a little bit better each time,” he said. “My expectations are that I’m preparing myself to be able to pitch in this homestand, and I thought I was pretty much on track to do that.
“I expected to be ready to do well. Unfortunately, this [back] is another thing that’s set me back a little bit. Fortunately, it’s not September with the playoffs coming. On the other side, these games count, too. I want to get out there as soon as possible.” cubs.com.
If Lilly throws just 60 pitches in this particular start, it’s hard to imagine that he’ll be ready to go in the bigs for his next start, but believe it or not, that’s exactly what Lilly wants to do. According to Paul Sullivan, Lilly wants to up his pitch total in Wednesday’s start to 75, and then come back to the Cubs for his next start:
“I would like to (return after one start), if I go out there and am throwing the ball fine,” Lilly said. “First of all, if the club feels like I’m ready to come here and help, then, yeah, I’d like to. When I get here, I want to be ready to be productive.”
Of course, just because Lilly wants things to play out this way is no guarantee the Cubs would be willing to follow that schedule. Instead, it’s still likely that even if things go perfectly, we will not see Lilly for about two weeks, following two minor league rehab starts.