Lefty Ted Lilly is scheduled to come off the disabled list to start Monday at San Diego. Righty Carlos Zambrano will make a minor league rehab start Thursday, with the hope of having him back in the Cubs' rotation next Tuesday.
Since the All-Star break, the Cubs have had those two pitchers, plus righty Ryan Dempster, on the DL.
"Look, over a period of what, six weeks here, we lost three starters," Piniella said Sunday. "They just all happened to be our No. 1, our No. 2 and our No. 3. We're starting to get the pieces back. Hopefully, Lilly and Zambrano will get our rotation back, and we'll play much better. You need pitching."
The Cubs need hitting, too, and they've also been without third baseman Aramis Ramirez for the better part of a week because of lingering soreness in his left shoulder. Ramirez dislocated the shoulder in May and missed two months.
Ramirez was out most of the weekend because of a bad sore throat that had him on antibiotics. With a healthy rotation and Ramirez in the lineup, the Cubs feel they can make a run at St. Louis over the final weeks of the season.
The Cubs trail the Cardinals by five full games in the NL Central.
--OF Reed Johnson may be able to return from the DL on the next homestand, which begins Aug. 25. Johnson has been on the DL since July 30 with a broken left foot, the result of a foul ball. Sam Fuld has filled in ably for Johnson in all three outfield spots.
--LHP Tom Gorzelanny, who won Saturday with five innings, likely will start one of the games at L.A. When Zambrano comes off the DL, the Cubs will move Gorzelanny to the bullpen, but Piniella said Gorzelanny gives them the option of a sixth starter if the Cubs need it. However, Piniella was quick to say the Cubs were not going to a six-man rotation.
BY THE NUMBERS: 9 — Rookie RHP Justin Berg became the ninth rookie pitcher used by the Cubs this year. The club record is 10, set in 1958 and again in 1962.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "My problem is that I've been lazy, and I don't like that I have been. I don't like to do abs, but I will have to start doing my abs every day and be serious about my abs." — Zambrano, on what he believes is the cause of recent back problems that put him on the DL.
--Lilly comes off the DL Monday night to start in San Diego. Lilly has been on the DL since July 21 with left-shoulder inflammation. He also had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. RHP Rich Harden was supposed to start Sunday's rained-out game. The Cubs will stay in their original rotation at San Diego, meaning Harden won't start until Thursday at the earliest, when the Cubs open a four-game series at L.A. against the Dodgers.
--Zambrano will make a rehab start Thursday for Class A Peoria. He is scheduled to start again for the Cubs on Aug. 25 against Washington. Zambrano has been on the DL since Aug. 8 with lower-back spasms. He threw a bullpen session Sunday. He blamed his problems on himself, saying he has not been as diligent with his abdominal-muscle work as he should have been.
—SS Ryan Theriot was kept at home Sunday because of a bad bout with a stomach virus. It's possible Theriot will not start Monday at San Diego. Aaron Miles likely will start Monday at San Diego, according to Piniella.
RF Milton Bradley (sore right hip) did not play on Aug. 14. He played on Aug. 15.
Ramirez (sore left shoulder) left the Aug. 8 game, and he didn't play Aug. 9-13. On Aug. 14, he missed the game with a sore throat, but pinch-hit on Aug. 15. He is day-to-day.
Gorzelanny (sore right foot) left the Aug. 10 game. X-rays were negative, and he pitched on Aug. 15.
Lilly (left knee surgery, left shoulder inflammation) went on 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 21. He underwent arthroscopic knee surgery July 27. He made a rehab start for Class A Peoria on Aug. 12, and he is expected to be activated Aug. 17.
Zambrano (back muscle spasms) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 2. He's expected to start for the Cubs on Aug. 25 after completing a rehab assignment.
INF Andres Blanco (left calf strain) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 4.
Johnson (fractured left foot) went on the 15-day disabled list July 30. He might return in late August.
RHP David Patton (right groin strain) went on the 15-day disabled list July 6. He began a rehab assignment with Class AA Tennessee on July 22. --The Sports XChange
IOWA 4, TACOMA 0 (CLASS AAA)
At Tacoma, Wash., the Cubs (62-59) made the most out of four hits in the victory Sunday. CF Matt Camp (2-for-5) led off and finished with two hits and two RBI. LHP James Russell (3-1) started and tossed five shutout innings, allowing four hits and two walks. He struck out five batters and picked up his first win since June 25.
DAYTONA 1, DUNEDIN 0 (CLASS HIGH-A)
At Daytona Beach, Josh Vitters’ first Florida State League home run was all the offense the Cubs (54-60 overall, 20-27 second half) would need in the victory Sunday. RF Brandon Guyer (2-4) led the team in hits. RHP Jay Jackson (2-0) started and tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing four hits. He struck out seven without allowing a walk to lower his ERA to 0.36 in four starts with Daytona.
PEORIA 15, QUAD CITIES 0 (CLASS-A)
At Davenport, Iowa, the Chiefs (67-51, 29-20) tied their season high in runs and hits (19) in the victory Sunday. CF Brett Jackson (4-6) hit his fifth home run for Peoria and drove in three runs. His four hits tied a season high and raised his average to .320 in 17 games with Peoria. 3B Ryan Flaherty (2-3) hit his 18th home run, and LF Nelson Perez (4-6, two RBI) had a season high four hits. RHP Justin Bristow (5-6) tossed six shutout innings for the win, allowing just two hits. He struck out four.
PADRES 13, CUBS 3 (ARIZONA ROOKIE LEAGUE)
At Mesa, the Cubs (26-20) fell behind 8-0 after five innings in the loss Sunday. The Cubs were out-hit 16-7 with SS Robert Bautista (2-4, triple, two RBI) leading the team in hits. LHP Brooks Raley, the Cubs’ 2009 sixth-round draft pick from Texas A&M, made his pro debut and tossed one scoreless inning, retiring all three batters he faced and recording one strikeout. RHP Miguel Sierra (1-1) suffered the loss, allowing two runs and five hits in three innings.