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Cubs' Lilly suffers setback in bid to return in April
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 4/10/2010 4:52 PM

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CINCINNATI - It's looking more like left-hander Ted Lilly won't return to the rotation until closer to May 1.

Lilly already had a minor-league rehab start postponed from Friday until Sunday. Now, Sunday's start is a no-go because the Cubs say Lilly is experiencing back stiffness.

The new plan is for Lilly to throw a bullpen session Monday at Wrigley Field, and if that turns out OK, he'll start Wednesday for Class AAA Iowa.

Lilly is coming back from arthroscopic surgery performed last November on his pitching shoulder.

"We've had a little delay, a little setback," said manager Lou Piniella. "I would think get him a nice, crisp game this time out (Wednesday) and lengthen him out the next time out."

When spring training ended, it looked like Lilly might be able to come off the disabled list April 19 at New York. Now, the earliest date for Lilly to return appears to be April 24 at Milwaukee.

A tradition: Right fielder Kosuke Fukudome is off to a .313 (5-for-16) start after hitting a 2-run homer in Saturday's 4-3 win over the Reds.

Fukudome entered this year a .331 hitter in the first month of the season.

"He's a Masters player," said Lou Piniella. "That's when they play the Masters, in April, right? He's going to have a good year this year the whole year. This is the year that I feel that he'll break out and have a nice, solid offensive year. We know he can play defense."

Fukudome, a right-handed golfer and a left-handed batter, took the compliment in stride.

"I'm glad to hear that, but I don't want to finish that way just in April," he said.

Getting it straight: Everybody appears to be on the same page after Friday night's differing stories about Carlos Silva's stiff right shoulder.

Silva came out of the 5-4 loss after 6 innings and only 71 pitches. After the game, Piniella told reporters Silva's shoulder was stiff. Silva, however, told those same reporters he was fine and that he wanted to pitch the seventh.

Piniella had a chat with Silva Saturday.

"I talked to him about it; let's make sure the I's are dotted and the T's are crossed," Piniella said.

Piniella also talked with rookie reliever Esmailin Caridad, who complained he wasn't getting calls from plate umpire Doug Eddings before giving up a grand slam to Drew Stubbs Friday.

Pitching plans: Ryan Dempster will start Monday's home opener against the Brewers. After an off-day Tuesday, Lou Piniella will come back with Randy Wells Wednesday and Carlos Zambrano on Thursday in the series finale with Milwaukee.

Piniella added that Dempster will pitch again next Saturday against Houston and that Carlos Silva likely would start Friday with Tom Gorzelanny pitching next Sunday.