The Cubs begin a HUGE 7-game west coast road trip on Monday night in San Diego. The Cubs will play 3 games against the Padres and 4 games against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. The Cubs are optimistic that the imminent return of key starters will help spark a much-needed winning streak that will bring them back into playoff contention.
Ted Lilly will start against Kevin Correja and the Padres on Monday night in San Diego. Lilly has been on the DL since July 21st and Manager Lou Pinella has indicated that Lilly will be good for 85-90 pitches. If Lilly can give the Cubs a quality start and pick up a win, the Cubs would be feeling good with Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells going the next 2 games against a weak-hitting Padres lineup. A 3-game sweep of the Padres is almost a must for the Cubs right now.
Aramis Ramirez will get the start on Monday night in San Diego as well. Ramirez was set to play in Sunday’s game before it was rained out. Ramirez has not played since last Saturday because of soreness in his right shoulder from his May shoulder dislocation.
And Carlos Zambrano is set to begin a minor league rehabilitation stint this week. Zambrano has been out with back soreness and back spasms and the team’s medical staff has implored Zambrano to maintain the strength in his core by strengthening his abdominal muscles and his hamstrings. Big Z had this to say about his conditioning: “There’s things in life you don’t like that you have to do. I don’t like to do abs, but I’ll have to start doing my abs every day… Like the doctors say, I’m a strong man, a big man, and that’s what big men do. Wherever they are weak, they get stronger.” Really?! Wow – a professional athlete actually has to work out and keep his body in shape during the course of an MLB season? Unbelievable… Zambrano was able to throw all of his pitches in a productive bullpen session on Sunday and is scheduled to pitch for Class A Peoria on Thursday. If all goes well, Zambrano will start against the Washington Nationals at Wrigley Field on Tuesday, August 25th.
The Cubs are 5 games over .500 at 60-55. They trail the Cardinals by 5 games in the NL Central race and the Rockies by 3.5 games in the NL Wild Card race. The Cubs also have to jump over the Giants, Marlins and Braves to catch the Rockies in the wild card race. It’s definitely a long shot, but there’s still 47 games left and anything can happen during the next 50 days…