NEW YORK As soon as Ryan Dempster shows hes healthy, the buzz is only going to intensify.
Dempster pushed to return before the All-Star break, and will get his wish, which in theory could mean he leaves the Cubs that much quicker.
The Cubs have decided that Dempster (sore right lat muscle) will come off the disabled list and start Sunday at Citi Field against the New York Mets. Let the trade rumors heat up all over again.
Thats OK, theyve been there, so it doesnt bother me, Dempster said Friday. Im just going to try and do my job the best I can and let all those things take care of themselves. Just focus on going out there and taking it one start at a time, one pitch at a time and just go from there.
The Cubs deferred to Dempster, who hasnt pitched in a game since June 15. He completed two bullpen sessions this week and threw off flat ground on Friday before getting clearance. He will be limited to around 80 pitches.
Its just a matter of durability issues, manager Dale Sveum said, but the guy keeps himself in phenomenal shape. Thats one part of the decision. If it was somebody else besides Ryan Dempster, you probably wouldnt be thinking about this.
Dempster said he first experienced discomfort on June 5 in Milwaukee, where he took a perfect game into the sixth inning against the Brewers, beginning a scoreless-innings streak that stands at 22.
Any time its your turn to pitch in the rotation, you miss it (and) its frustrating, Dempster said. I feel healthy and thats the most encouraging thing. I wasnt trying to rush back (just to) say Im going to make it before the break. (I) want to make sure Im right and I feel really good.
The Cubs will no doubt get calls on Dempster, who loves playing in Chicago, has no-trade rights and doesnt necessarily want to leave. But at the age of 35, and in the final year of his contract, hes indicated that he will work with the organization.
Dempster, who has a 2.11 ERA in 12 starts this season, would be attractive to contenders looking for upgrades in the rotation, and a strong clubhouse presence. He insists that he hasnt really thought about this potentially being his final days in a Cubs uniform.
No, Ive just been trying to get healthy and worry about that, Dempster said. Im going to need as much focus as I can I havent thrown a game in a few weeks. I need to have all my focus making pitches, rather than on other things.