Much like Brandon Webb, Ted Lilly is an All-Star pitcher trying to recover from surgery on his throwing shoulder. And much like the Diamondbacks are being patient with Webb, the Chicago Cubs are being equally cautious with Lilly.
Cubs GM Jim Hendry said on Tuesday that there is no set timetable for Lilly’s return, though reports have predicted the lefty will be back in action sometime in late April or early May. (From ESPN Chicago)
“I talked to Mark O’Neil [trainer] last week, and he said he is coming along fine,” Hendry said. “If he starts April 15 that will be fine. I don’t see it being anything unless there is some kind of setback that happens in camp. It was a real minor procedure. In fairness to Ted, we’re not going to rush him either. If he’s 95 percent on Opening Day then we will wait until he is 100 percent.”
Lilly was the Cubs’ best starter last season, going 12-9 with a 3.10 ERA (Randy Wells had a lower ERA at 3.05, but his WHIP of 1.276 did not compare to Lilly’s 1.056) so it makes sense for the Cubs to be cautious. Especially if they’re going to make Lou Piniella’s fantasy come true.
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With Game 6 of the NLCS just hours away, the Dodgers will opt for a lefty-heavy lineup against right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Batting leadoff is rookie outfielder Andrew Toles, who made one appearance at the top of the lineup during the 2016 season. The Cubs, meanwhile, will bench Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.. This will be Almora’s first start of the playoffs, and while he has yet to face Kershaw in October, his right-handed bat could play well against the lefty at the bottom of the lineup.
Game time is scheduled for 8 PM EDT; lineups are below.
1. Andrew Toles (L) LF
6. Wilson Contreras (R) C
8. Albert Almora Jr. (R) RF
9. Kyle Hendricks (R) RHP
UPDATE, 5:08 PM EDT: Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon will not rule out a World Series appearance for Kyle Schwarber if the Cubs advance. MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports that Schwarber could play through a simulated game on Sunday, during which the Cubs’ medical and baseball staff would evaluate his chances for a late season return. If he does play, it will likely be in a pinch-hitting or DH role and not on the field.
Cubs’ outfielder Kyle Schwarber will return to the playing field on Saturday, per a report by the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales. The club’s prized left fielder suffered a season-ending injury when he collided with Dexter Fowler back in April, tearing both his ACL and LCL and undergoing intensive knee surgery later that month.
While no nerve damage was discovered during the surgery, the Cubs have kept a close eye on Schwarber during his recovery and put a kibosh on any part-time or full-time role with the team until the spring of 2017. Getting a few reps in during the Arizona Fall League appears to be the last step in the 23-year-old’s rehab process. He will be part of the Mesa Solar Sox’ ‘taxi squad,’ making him eligible for games on Wednesdays and Saturdays only.
Schwarber batted .246/.355/.487 with 16 in 69 games with the Cubs during his debut season in 2015. He will be added to the Mesa Solar Sox roster in advance of their set against the Salt River Rafters on Saturday evening.