Piniella says Lilly is "ahead of schedule"

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Cubs manager Lou Piniella sounded upbeat after Ted Lilly threw on the backfields at HoHoKam Park early Saturday:

“We want to keep him under the radar gun and not talk much about it,”
Piniella said of Lilly’s progress. “He’s coming along really well. He’s
had no setbacks whatsoever. He’s actually ahead of schedule.


“We feel pretty good about the possibility of him pitching some Spring
Training [games].

Lilly, who was 12-9 with a 3.10 ERA last season, is currently working his way back from offseason surgery on his left shoulder. He has quickly ramped up his rehab schedule after undergoing an MRI on his right knee and missing time with a virus early on in camp.

The 34-year-old southpaw was originally expected to be ready in mid-April or early-May, but that timeline could obviously change depending on when he sees game action.

Madison Bumgarner has been competing in rodeos under a fake name

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The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly and Zach Buchanan report that Diamondbacks starter Madison Bumgarner has been competing in rodeos under a fake name as recently as December. The fake name is Mason Saunders. Bumgarner explains that “Mason” is shortened from “Madison,” while “Saunders” is his wife’s maiden name.

Bumgarner — err, Saunders — and one of his rodeo partners, Jaxson Tucker, won $26,560 in a team-roping rodeo competition in December. The Rancho Rio Arena posted a picture of the pair on Facebook, highlighting that they roped four steers in 31.36 seconds.

As Baggarly and Buchanan point out, Bumgarner also pointed out in a rodeo competition last March, just a couple days before pitching in a Cactus League game versus the Athletics, back when he was still with the Giants.

Bumgarner suffered bruised ribs and a left shoulder AC sprain in 2017 when he got into a dirt bike accident. Given that, Bumgarner’s latest extracurricular activity does raise a concern for the Diamondbacks, who inked him to a five-year, $85 million contract two months ago. Baggarly and Buchanan asked Bumgarner about such a concern. Bumgarner referred them to the club’s managing partner Ken Kendrick. Kendrick directed them to GM Mike Hazen. Hazen declined speaking about “specific contract language.” For what it’s worth, Bumgarner says he primarily uses his right hand to rope.

The jig is up on Bumgarner’s hobby. He jokingly said to The Athletic’s pair, “I’m nervous about this interview right now.” He added, “I’m upset with both you two.”