Cubs' Lilly will probably miss first month

Cubs left hander Ted Lilly’s bizarre first 12 days in camp has been a roller coaster ride of a combination of bad luck and bad health.

Initially, Lilly came into camp rehabbing his left shoulder after having had arthroscopic surgery to clean up the area last November. Since entering camp, Lilly was bothered with a sore right knee on the second day of workouts and a full-blown virus he caught a week ago that cost him five days of conditioning.

Manager Lou Piniella is not counting on Lilly’s help in April -- at least not at this point.

“We weren’t going to push him anyway,” Piniella said. “He came out here and got a little running and throwing in yesterday. I really haven’t pressed Larry [Rothschild, pitching coach] for any details. He’s going to miss the first two weeks. Probably the first month of the season.”

Lilly didn’t argue with Piniella’s analysis other than to say this is a setback and that ultimately the manager will decide when to pitch him.

Lilly has won the most games for the Cubs over the last three seasons (44). The former Yankee and Blue Jay signed a four-year, $40 million contract in December 2006. General manager Jim Hendry signed Lilly while he was on his way to a hospital for a heart procedure during the winter meetings that year in Florida. The Lilly signing is arguably Hendry’s best free agent signing.

With Lilly surely starting the season on the DL, the battle for the fourth and fifth rotation spots include lefties Sean Marshall and Tom Gorzelanny and right handers Jeff Samardzija and Carlos Silva.

Any of the four could be in the rotation based on performance.