Ted Lilly’s first minor league rehab start was a success yesterday, allowing just two baserunners in four innings.
Lilly threw 51 pitches — 31 for strikes — over four innings in a rehab start with Class AAA Iowa on Wednesday night. He gave up a walk and line-drive homer by the Memphis Cardinals’ Tyler Greene, but no one else reached base against him.
”I was locating my fastball and throwing strikes,” Lilly said. ”I honestly feel like I’m ready.”
Lilly had shoulder surgery in November, and back spasms twice pushed back an appearance with Iowa. Neither malady was an issue Wednesday as he threw first-pitch strikes to nine of 14 batters, struck out four and hit 86 mph.
”Everything’s good,” Lilly said. ”I think all that’s behind me.” CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.
Lilly was expected to throw 60 to 75 pitches, but no one has suggested that the fact he threw only 51 is an indication of any issue. Lilly usually works his fastball right around 90 mph, so it does sound like he’s got some velocity to regain.
For his part, Lilly believes he’s ready to rejoin the Cubs next week. More than likely, however, is that the Cubs will give him one more rehab start, and bring him back in late April.
Fill-in starters Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny should have two more starts each to make their case for remaining in the rotation after Lilly returns. The decision, however, may be tied more closely to which of the two Lou Piniella believes can help the Cubs in the bullpen. While it may not be quite as glamorous as starting, the “loser” could wind up taking over a very important late inning role.