Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said the club will keep looking for a right-handed reliever but also could find what they like in camp and not sign anyone else. The Cubs opening spring training next week in Arizona.
Associated Press file photo
There was no new right-handed reliever on the truck that left Wrigley Field for Arizona on Tuesday, and one doesn't seem to be on his way any time soon.
That doesn't mean general manager Jim Hendry is through looking. It just means the search may go well into spring training, which begins next week with pitchers and catchers reporting to Mesa.
"Obviously, we're always on the lookout," Hendry said at snowy Wrigley Field, where the team staged a spring-training kickoff, with the truck being loaded outside the left-field gate. "Maybe we'll try to do something in camp. Maybe we'll get there and figure out we're fine.
"We like our club. We've got a pretty good roster coming to camp. Body-wise, we have more people coming to camp internally (homegrown talent) than we've ever had."
The Cubs' search for a reliever could take up much of camp, and Hendry pointed to 2008, when the Cubs signed outfielder Reed Johnson late in camp, as an example.
"We've got some ideas of people to scout in camp," Hendry said. "But if something came along in the next week or two, before we really got going, we'd certainly look into that, too."
Arbitration looming: The Cubs and shortstop Ryan Theriot don't appear any closer to a contract, and an arbitration hearing in the coming days seems more and more likely.
Theriot, who was paid $500,000 last year, is seeking $3.4 million while the Cubs are offering $2.6 million. Jim Hendry appears to be holding firm.
"I haven't spoken to his people in awhile," Hendry said. "There's always a chance until it's final, but I can't say I'm optimistic, either. We've already settled with the other seven (arbitration-eligibles). If it's a situation where it ends up going to a hearing, then that's OK, too.
"Everybody has a right to feel how they do, and it won't affect, obviously, the way we feel about him or the way he plays."
Lilly's limits: Although manager Lou Piniella has cited May 1 as the most likely return date for left-hander Ted Lilly from minor surgery on his pitching shoulder, Jim Hendry is not setting any timetables.
"I talked to (trainer) Mark O'Neal last week about Lilly, and he said he's coming along fine," Hendry said. "We're not worried about it. If he starts April 15, that's fine. I don't see it being anything unless there's some kind of setback that happens in camp that we'll worry about it.
"It was a very minor procedure. In fairness to Ted, we're not going to rush it, either. If he's 95 percent on Opening Day or opening week, then we'll wait until he's 100."