Lilly's recovery is ahead of schedule

Lilly's recovery is ahead of schedule

MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly is "ahead of schedule," Lou Piniella said on Saturday, and the lefty could get into a Cactus League game.

Lilly, coming back from arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder, threw on the backfield 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 did not face hitters on Saturday. He had said he was going to throw a live batting-practice session this weekend. The lefty, who was projected to be ready in mid-April or May 1, has made up for the time he missed because of a virus.

"He's ahead of schedule, that I can tell you," Piniella said. "I haven't talked much about him because I don't want him to push him too fast."

The Cubs have two vacancies in the rotation and are still sorting out the candidates. Piniella has hinted they would have a decision made around March 22.

"Let's just see everybody around one more time," Piniella said. "Let's not rush."

First baseman Derrek Lee was not available for Saturday's game. He is still bothered by a bruise suffered on Wednesday when he fouled a ball off his left foot. Lee most likely will miss a couple more days and may not be back in the lineup until Tuesday.

Third baseman Aramis Ramirez left Saturday's game in Las Vegas after two innings because of a sore right triceps muscle. His status is day-to-day.

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