Yankees may join the Lilly chase

Add another team to the list of perspective buyers for Chicago Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly. Sunday the New York Yankees may have lost veteran left-handed starter Andy Pettitte to a groin injury. Pettitte came out of his start against Tampa Bay in the third inning with a strained left groin and was taken to New York Presbyterian for an MRI. Tests revealed Pettitte suffered a Grade 1 strain, the least severe kind, but manager Joe Girardi said, "It looks like he's probably headed to the DL."

Lilly, who will pitch for the Cubs on Wednesday, is being actively pursued by teams such as the Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers. If Pettitte’s injury is serious, you can add the Yankees to that list. Lilly came up in the Yankees’system and was almost traded to the Cubs in 2000, along with left fielder Alfonso Soriano, for outfielder Sammy Sosa.

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry has the organization philosophy about whether or not to move players over the next two weeks, with the non-waiver trade deadline approaching at midnight on July 31. “I think no matter what spot you’re in, and we haven’t been in this spot since 2006, I think from the 15th on there’s a steady stream of calls,” said Hendry. "If we do anything between now and deadline, it will be designed to think what’s best for our future, too [not just making a trade to make a trade].”

Hendry was asked whether he feels he needs to make a trade at this time. “We don’t feel the need for people to be dumped since we’re ten games back. A lot of time what the public thinks fits for a club, may not be. And so you can’t force trades. At the same time, even if you want to [make trades], that doesn’t mean you get what you wish [for].”

Hendry went on to talk about what his team needs to do over the next 70 ballgames. “It’s a balancing act of [doing] what’s best for the organization, playing enough people to be ready for next year, and then at the same time you have a lot of major league baseball games that you must try to win every day.”

Hendry also confirmed that Carlos Zambrano will head to Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday or Thursday after pitching in a simulated game in Mesa, Arizona on Monday. “We’ll see how he throws [Monday],” Hendry said. “If that goes well we’ll get him to Iowa on Wednesday or Thursday. Then Larry and Lou will decide how many appearances he needs.”

Asked about any concerns he has about Zambrano getting ready to rejoin the Cubs, Hendry said, “You want to make sure that you’re sharp and you’re ready when you get up here. The health of the player is important. You don’t rush it along, because when you get him up here he’ll be over-amped a little bit. You have to prepare him for that.”

Addressing the timeline for Zambrano’s return, Hendry surmised that Carlos wouldn’t be ready to return before the end of this homestand (July 25), but he would return before the first of August. That puts the pitcher in line to join his team in Houston (July 26-28) or in Colorado (July 30-August 1).