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Ted Lilly returns to Cubs as special assistant to Theo

Updated: March 4, 2014 6:04PM

MESA, Ariz. – As the Cubs’ rebuilding process stretches further and further from the team’s last foray into October, the brass is making sure they have at least a few guys around the front office who remember what the playoffs at Wrigley Field look like.

The latest is former Cubs’ All-Star pitcher Ted Lilly, a fan and clubhouse favorite, whose signature moments with the Cubs involved the ultra competitive nature that belied his cool exterior – the successful home plate collision in St. Louis that left Yadier Molina writhing in pain during the pennant race in 2008 and the smashing of the pipes in the visitors dugout at Dodger Stadium the night the Cubs were eliminated from the playoffs a few weeks later.

Lilly, who also famously hurled his glove to the ground after giving up a playoff home run in Arizona in 2007, was hired as a special assistant to team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer, the team announced Tuesday.

“We started talking to Ted at the [Cubs] Convention,” Hoyer said. “I didn’t know him; Theo didn’t know him, but obviously we really respected his reputation from afar. We faced him a lot with the Red Sox when he was in Toronto, and I love the way he competes.

“And obviously his reputation with the Cubs is sterling, which is fantastic, not only as a person but as a competitor.”

Lilly, who retired last year after two injury-plagued seasons with the Dodgers, said he was looking for a way to stay in baseball and welcomed the chance to return to Chicago.

He’s expected to take both amateur and pro scouting assignments, along with possible direct work with young players, though his exact role and schedule is fluid for now.

“I feel like I have something to offer, and this is the organization that I’d prefer to be with so it worked out,” said Lilly, whose schedule will be influenced by the fact he has two small kids and a third on the way.

“Certainly, I’d like to be around as often as possible,” he said.

That was one of the appealing aspects of the conversation in January, Hoyer said.

“I really liked what he had to say,” the GM said. “A lot of guys I think want to sort of get back in, but they don’t really want to work that much. He made it clear right away that he wanted to work and wants to get involved in scouting. I think we’ll use him in a variety of ways.”

His direct contributions to the Cubs last two playoff teams – winning 15 games in ’07 and leading the team with 17 wins in ’08 – was a big part of the attraction, too.

“It was pretty clear after a few conversations that he had something to add,” Hoyer said. “I do like the fact that he was with a Cubs team that won 97 games and had success. As you’re trying to figure out how to build a winner in Chicago, he’s a guy that was part of it.”

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