Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Lilly's knee fixed, funny bone fine

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Maybe the Cubs are better off just laughing this one away. Fukudome singles inside the pitcher's jersey? Dempster ignores an easy out at the plate with none out in the third to try for a double play - and throws the ball into center?

With 64 games left, they can afford to laugh about this one, even if they reenacted the Dempster dugout-rail thing and tripped and fell out of first place.

At least nobody got hurt, and Dempster's toe seemed fine.

And while nobody in the Cubs' clubhouse was in a laughing mood after the game, Ted Lilly's deadpan exchange with reporters before the game might have revealed a glimpse of improving spirits around the place compared to just a few weeks and months ago.

Whether that means anything about the junkyard dog days that loom over the next four weeks remains to be seen.

But a little humor around this place is at least a welcome change from the first half of the season.

Asked by a media type whether he'd ever had a toe injury and to relate it to what Dempster might be going through in his return, Lilly -- fresh off Monday's knee scope -- said:

``I don't know. For a while, I thought Ryan might have been completely faking it - kind of speculation. But, yeah, we called a toe truck and had them come over and take a look at him, and they said that he was fine.

``I know that he came up with this mysterious thing where they said it was broken and that sort of deal. But I know better. ...''

When it was pointed out that Lilly himself seemed to start the whole dugout-rail jumping fad when he went after that ump earlier this season, he said:

``I tried to warn Ryan. It was something Marquis and I were doing, and I tried to let Ryan know that it was a thing that maybe just athletes should stick to. And he desperately wanted to be a part of that crowd. And it came back to haunt him unfortunately. Maybe it'll motivate him to take care of himself and be a little more agile. I don't' know if it's in the cards for him.''

Lilly, who walked into his first career triple earlier this season to pump his slugging percentage to .150, then turned his attention to Dempster's hitting.

``What I'd like to see him do is be able to turn on a four-seam fastball and be able to hit it into the gap,'' Lilly said. ``He's going to have to find a way to put the ball in play one of these days.

``You know, I go out there and look forward to watching him hit, and it's getting to the point now where I'm thinking about going inside when his turn comes up. I've tried to work with him, but he's uncoachable. He's one of these kids that has all the answers.''

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on July 29, 2009 12:05 AM.

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