According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, Ted Lilly’s rehab start on Sunday has been pushed back for a second time due to a stiff back. He was originally supposed to start on Friday night. According to Wittenmyer, he’ll throw a bullpen on Monday and is tentatively scheduled to start again on Wednesday.
Despite all that, Cubs manager Lou Piniella says that Lilly’s stiff back is “not a setback.” Meanwhile, a quick look at Merriam-Webster tells us that a setback is “a checking of progress.”
Whatever Sweet Lou wants to call it, Lilly is now unlikely to pitch for the Cubs this month. Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny will likely continue to round out the rotation until he is ready to return from the disabled list.
An interesting tidbit today from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who noted that ongoing talks between agent Scott Boras and the Padres have focused more on starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel than slugger Bryce Harper. Earlier this week, there were conflicting reports on the Padres’ level of interest in Harper — MLB Network’s Jon Heyman heard the club had not ruled out another big signing after getting Manny Machado, while Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to multiple sources who believed otherwise — but any agreement between the two is looking unlikelier by the day.
As for Keuchel, Rosenthal cautions that a potential deal is still a “longshot,” especially as the team has other, cheaper options in mind. The 31-year-old southpaw turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros last year and is likely angling for something north of the five-year, $90 million contract extension he rejected from the club in 2016. He’s coming off of another solid performance in Houston, where he went 12-11 in 34 starts with a 3.74 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 SO/9, and 3.6 fWAR through 204 2/3 innings in 2018.
While Keuchel has failed to garner substantial interest around the league this offseason, Heyman points out that the Phillies are looking to establish themselves as frontrunners for the lefty — and they’re far less likely to have hang-ups about his asking price, too.