It's that simple. Hill could start Thursday against the Cincinnati Reds, or be pushed back for the Cubs' series next weekend against the Pirates. That means the rotation for the upcoming series against the Reds will be Ryan Dempster on Tuesday, Carlos Zambrano on Wednesday and a pitcher to be determined. Either Ted Lilly or Hill could go.
The Cubs would like Hill to get some work out of the 'pen in hopes of correcting whatever is wrong. The lefty has walked seven and given up seven hits in nine innings over two starts.
"He's just not throwing the ball," Piniella said. "The other day, in the first inning, he was aiming it. When he came back after the first inning, he looked a little confused. I said, 'The only thing you're not doing is cutting it loose. Go out there and give it your best stuff.' He made it through three innings.
"There's no sense keeping a pitcher out there if he's struggling that bad. He's just got to go out and throw it. He's got a ton of talent."
The Cubs did get good news on right-hander Jason Marquis, who will start Sunday in the series finale against the Phillies. Marquis missed his scheduled start Friday to give him time to recover from strep throat. He was able to work out Friday and threw on the side.
CHC: LHP Ted Lilly (0-1, 9.72 ERA)
Lilly was cruising through the first three innings of his last start against the Pirates, then threw 35 pitches to eight batters in the fourth before he was pulled. What was mystifying was that he had a 7-0 lead at the time. Lilly was charged with five runs on seven hits and two walks over 3 2/3 innings. He's 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA in two career starts against the Phillies. Piniella thinks Lilly needs to speed things up; Lilly thinks he needs to slow down. We'll see who wins.
PHI: LHP Cole Hamels (1-1, 1.20 ERA)
Hamels continued his dominance of the Reds at Great American Ball Park with seven strong innings Monday. The left-hander gave up one earned run on five hits. He walked three and struck out four in a 100-pitch outing. Against the Cubs, Hamels was 2-0 last year with a 1.80 ERA and is 2-1 in his career.
Aramis Ramirez's first-inning home run Friday was his 149th with the Cubs, moving him past Mark Grace for 11th on the team's all-time list. It also was his 500th extra-base hit. ... Piniella wanted Kerry Wood to pitch as soon as he could after blowing a save on Wednesday, so the right-hander came into Thursday's game even though it was a non-save situation. "He's getting used to a new role," Piniella said. "The more feeling I can give him of finishing a ballgame and shaking hands, the better. That was part of last night, too." ... Tim Lahey, whom the Cubs acquired in the Rule 5 Draft in a trade and was then claimed off waivers by the Phillies, was returned to the Twins. The Phillies designated Lahey for assignment, and he had to be offered back to the Twins after clearing waivers. ... The Iowa Cubs' game Friday against Nashville was postponed because of rain, and the two teams will try to play a doubleheader on Saturday. Sean Gallagher and J.R. Mathes were slated to start for Iowa. The Cubs have had four games rained out already.
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Official game notes
Sunday: Cubs (Jason Marquis, 0-0, 6.75) at Phillies (Jamie Moyer, 1-0, 4.66), 12:35 p.m. CT
Tuesday: Cubs (Ryan Dempster, 1-0, 0.69) vs. Reds (Aaron Harang, 1-1, 2.14), 7:05 p.m. CT