7/31 Lilly says goodbye

Ted Lilly said he thought perhaps the trade deadline would pass and he would stay with the Cubs. But he found out Saturday he was headed to the Dodgers along with infielder Ryan Theriot in exchange for Blake DeWitt and two Minor League pitchers.

“I think I’m going to a really good place and to a team that has aspirations of winning the World Series and that’s a fortunate thing for me to be a part of,” Lilly said.

He will be returning to the team that originally drafted him back in 1996.

“You look at it like that and it’s pretty special,” Lilly said.

He talked to the Dodgers equipment manager on Saturday, and the lefty said it’s the same person who handed him his first uniform during Spring Training games.

“It’s pretty amazing how this has come full circle,” he said.

Chicago was special, too.

“I couldn’t ask for a better place to play, teammates to play with, fans to play for,” he said. “All the way from the coaching staff to the front office, I can’t say enough.”

Still, he didn’t want to leave the Cubs.

“It’s not something I’m overly excited about,” Lilly said. “I’m going to miss a lot. But when I go over there and I put a Dodgers uniform on and I meet my new teammates and start competing with them, I’ll really enjoy it.”

This is the last year of Lilly’s contract. He said he’d consider coming back but there apparently have been no talks between the Cubs and the lefty about extending his contract.

“I think I voiced my opinion as to what I’d prefer but there are reasons that go into it,” Lilly said. “I would imagine money is one of them.”

The two sides never exchanged dollar figures.

“Obviously, this organization is commited to win,” he said. “I would imagine they’ll do what’s necessary to put this club in that position again in 2011. One thing I’ve learned is you can’t get too far ahead of yourself and try to predict what’s going to happen down the road. I seem to benefit from just trying to keep my mind focused on one thing at a time and my next start kind of thing.”

The Cubs began play Saturday 11 games back in the NL Central. The Dodgers are seven games behind the Padres in the NL West.

“I don’t think this is how any of us would’ve drawn it up,” Lilly said. “[GM Jim Hendry] didn’t have a lot of choices. We would all prefer to be buyers and to be acquiring pieces but this is what it’s come to.”

– Carrie Muskat

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