7/22 Lilly reportedly hot commodity

Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly is 0-2 in his last four starts with a 6.57 ERA yet the lefty apparently is on a lot of teams’ lists as the trading deadline approaches. ESPN.com is reporting at least six teams are interested in Lilly and said the only certainty is that the left-hander will be dealt by July 31. Lilly, who will be a free agent at the end of this season, is 3-8 with a 3.88 ERA and has gotten the worst run support of any pitcher in the Major Leagues. He did not get a decision in his last start Wednesday against the Astros, giving up one run on seven hits over 7 1/3 innings. That run came on Pedro Feliz’s pinch-hit homer. Lilly has served up 19 homers in 111 1/3 innings so far; he gave up 22 in 177 innings last year. He’ll need a big ballpark.

After Wednesday’s game, Lilly was asked about the possibility of being traded.

“I’m not going to put a whole lot into that,” Lilly said. “I’ve said this before, I’ve got my hands full trying to win games.”

Would he want to pitch for a team in the race?

“Definitely, and first and foremost, you’d like to do that here,” he said of the Cubs. “It’s going to be tough.”

Yes it will. The Cubs are 11 games back in the NL Central.

“There’s a lot of speculation and rumors that are thrown out there,” Lilly said. “They don’t necessarily mean that something is going to happen.”

Also, ESPN.com’s sources say the Cubs will try to deal Carlos Zambrano and the $35.875 million remaining on his contract this winter. One unidentified American League official was quoted as saying the determining factor will be how much of Zambrano’s salary the Cubs are willing to absorb. Zambrano is on the restricted list after his dugout tantrum June 25 but was slated to pitch in relief Thursday night for Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs’ Opening Day starter was not expected to rejoin the team until July 30 in Colorado.

— Carrie Muskat

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