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Cubs' Lilly has only wear, tear in knee

MESA, Ariz. (AP) — Ted Lilly was as relieved as a starter could be when he got the news: There's no major damage in his sore right knee and the Chicago Cubs' reliable left-hander continued to work his way back Friday from offseason shoulder surgery.

Lilly has not yet thrown off the mound and when his knee started bothering him the last couple of days, he was checked out Thursday by a doctor. The MRI revealed just wear and tear.

"There is no significant damage that would require surgery, basically. So obviously that's good news," Lilly said.

He was back on the field throwing on flat ground Friday, trying to get his left shoulder in shape for the season, even though he's not expected to be ready by opening day. He had arthroscopic surgery in November.

He said the knee felt fine and so did the shoulder. He'll have to relieve stress on his knee when possible.

"I think I'm going to have to make a few adjustments to my conditioning, not pound on it too much, which will be tough," Lilly added. "I'm still expecting to try to catch up with the rest of the guys."

Manager Lou Piniella said Lilly may have to cut back on all the running he does to stay in shape and switch to an exercise bicycle.

"We are just going to monitor him and see how he is," said Piniella, whose team was ravaged by injuries last season. "It would have been a lot worse."

Lilly is 44-26 in his three seasons with the Cubs, including 12-9 last year with a 3.10 ERA in 27 starts.

He went on the disabled list last July with inflammation in the shoulder before returning to the rotation. He had hoped rest would make his shoulder better — it didn't — and that's why he waited a month before having surgery in the offseason.

The surgery was done by Dr. Lewis Yocum, who found no major damange in cleaning up the shoulder.

"It wasn't like he had a big tear and we're behind because he needed Tommy John or rotator cuff cleanup," general manager Jim Hendry said. "It really wasn't any big deal that it was done when it was done, to be honest with you."

With Lilly's status for the beginning of the season unclear, the Cubs will have Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells at the top of the rotation. The fourth starter, until Lilly returns, and the No. 5 man will likely emerge from a group that includes Jeff Samardzija, Tom Gorezelanny, Sean Marshall and Carlos Silva.

Even though regulars are not scheduled to report until Monday, all but six players are already in camp.

Showing up Friday was veteran Kevin Millar, who was signed to a minor league contract.

The personable Millar, who was with the Red Sox when they ended an 86-year World Series championship drought in 2004, hopes he can help do the same for the Cubs, whose last title came in 1908.

The 38-year-old Millar, a free spirit known as a strong clubhouse presence, will try to win a job as a backup infielder and outfielder. He was a teammate of current Cubs Dempster and Derrek Lee while with the Florida Marlins. In 12 major league seasons, he is a .274 career hitter.

"I don't have a whole lot of tools. I never had. I don't even think I have a tool box," Millar said. "That's not what made me. What made me is that I've loved it more than anybody else."