Cubs manager Lou Piniella confirmed that Ted Lilly will return from the disabled list this weekend in Milwaukee, according to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com.
Lilly made his final tuneup start on Monday night, tossing 88 pitches over seven innings for Single-A Peoria. Piniella indicated that Lilly could make his season debut on either Saturday or Sunday, though he is currently leaning towards Saturday.
It has been an eventful road back for Lilly, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on left shoulder in November. He battled a fever and needed an MRI on his right knee in February and dealt with some back soreness earlier this month. The 34-year-old southpaw was 12-9 with a 3.10 ERA and 1.06 WHIP over 27 starts with the Cubs last season.
His return means that one current member of the rotation — most likely Carlos Silva or Tom Gorzelanny — will head to the bullpen.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.