Lilly throwing again, hopes to debut by late April

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Ted Lilly threw live batting practice yesterday and reported no pain in his surgically repaired shoulder or recently injured knee, indicating that he hopes to join the Cubs’ rotation by late April:

I feel pretty darn good. I don’t know how close to normal. The most important thing is when you get up there on the mound. I haven’t thrown any breaking balls yet. It’s a different deal when you’re throwing bullpen [sessions] or even batting practice as opposed to when you get in a game and work out of jams.

Dave van Dyck of the Chicago Tribune reports that Lilly will next throw a simulated game and then perhaps advance to real game action in extended spring training. He won’t be in the Opening Day rotation, but it sounds like Lilly won’t miss more than a few starts if he can avoid setbacks.

A.J. Hinch: “If it was any other time of the year, [José Altuve] wouldn’t be in the lineup.”

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It has been evident throughout the playoffs that Astros second baseman José Altuve’s right knee is bothering him. Altuve battled a right knee issue in July, then banged it up again in Game 2 of the ALDS and it’s been a problem ever since.

Manager A.J. Hinch said that if it were the regular season, he wouldn’t put Altuve in the lineup. Per MLB.com’s Richard Justice, the full quote:

He’s hurt. And if it was any other time of the year, he wouldn’t be in the lineup or wouldn’t be playing. He’d probably be on the DL. … But he’s showing up every day in good spirits, ready to go, giving 100 percent of what he’s got. He should be commended.

Hinch also said of Altuve, “His teammates revere him. The production that he’s doing on one leg is pretty incredible. And he’s trying not to talk about it. And therefore I am.”

During the ALCS, Altuve has hit .250/.368/.313 in 16 at-bats. He has just one extra-base hit but he has racked up three singles and drawn three walks while scoring four runs. Hinch has had Marwin González start at second base Games 3 and 4 and is doing so again on Thursday night in Game 5.