Cubs get good news on injury front

Cubs get good news on injury front

WASHINGTON -- Alfonso Soriano was back in the Cubs' lineup Saturday, Ted Lilly was scheduled to start Monday in Philadelphia and Ryan Dempster threw a bullpen session. Things are looking up for the Cubs.

Soriano, who dislocated the little finger in his right hand on Thursday sliding into first base, said the swelling had diminished enough so he could grip a bat. He hit in the batting cages early Saturday and said he was ready. Cubs manager Lou Piniella had two lineups ready depending on Soriano's status.

Lilly had been scheduled to start Saturday, but was pushed back to Monday against Philadelphia because of inflammation in his left knee.

"He said he could've pitched today if he had to," Piniella said of the left-hander. "That's a good sign for us. The decision to give him another 48 hours was a good one."

Lilly wasn't sure when he first felt some discomfort in his left knee. It hasn't really slowed him from doing his work on the side, and he said, "it's nothing major."

"I was feeling OK," Lilly said. "Hopefully with the rest, it'll give me a chance to feel better."

The injury had nothing to do with keeping Lilly from pitching in the All-Star Game on Tuesday in St. Louis. The left-hander was the Cubs' only representative on the National League team.

"[NL manager Charlie Manuel] was going to try to get me in there if they went extra innings," Lilly said. "He just said, 'Be ready to pitch.' It depended on how the game progressed.

"I'd like to make the All-Star team again next year," Lilly said. "It was a great experience for myself and my family and everybody. Hopefully, I'll pitch in next year's All-Star Game."

Dempster is on the disabled list with a broken right big toe, and had his first bullpen session Saturday since he injured his foot on July 5. Piniella called the workout "OK."

"The bone has to start showing calcifications and fusing together, and that's what we're waiting for," Piniella said. "I think before we make any concrete determination [as to when Dempster can pitch], he'll have to get another X-ray. He threw today and he was OK. He passed the first test. Before we can push him any further, he'll have to get another X-ray."

Dempster expects to have an X-ray on Thursday when the Cubs return from this two-city trip to Washington and Philadelphia. If he continues to progress, Dempster could throw a simulated game rather than go to the Minor Leagues, and be inserted back in the Cubs' rotation by the end of July or the first week of August.

Catcher Geovany Soto (left oblique strain) also is expected back the first week of August. He is currently rehabbing in Mesa, Ariz., at the team's Spring Training facility.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.