3/16 Lilly & Samardzija update

Ted Lilly will return to Arizona and throw to hitters on Thursday. Lou Piniella said the left-hander was eager to throw some live BP. Lilly, who is rehabbing from arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder, had returned home to be with his wife, who gave birth to the couple’s first child, a son. After live BP, he’ll throw a simulated game — or “assimilated game,” as Piniella calls it — then start in a Cactus League game. Lilly will stay back in Arizona when the big league team breaks camp to get more work in.

“Larry [Rothschild, pitching coach] seems to think three starts will be enough,” Piniella said. “That’s why we’re optimistic.”

If the lefty does that, he could be in the Cubs rotation by mid to late April.

* Jeff Samardzija will throw four innings of a Minor League intrasquad game on Wednesday at Fitch Park. The right-hander is a candidate for the rotation. Piniella said all of the pitchers will get two starts in Cactus League games.

— Carrie Muskat

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