No, Ryan Dempster said he didnt think about it in those terms, that this could be his final start at Wrigley Field in a Cubs uniform.
But there was the conspicuous chat that Dempster had with team president Theo Epstein on Wednesday afternoon in the seats off the third-base line, in full view of the media.
And there was Dempster after Fridays 3-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox, touring a group of people across the outfield grass and toward the ivy. That may not be another dot you have to connect, but its pretty clear where all this is heading.
Im not nave. Im not oblivious to whats going on, Dempster said. Its one of those things where if I focused on that, or worried about that, I wouldnt be doing a very good job as a teammate.
Whatever ends up happening ends up happening. Right now, Im here and love being here and everybody knows that. I love the city of Chicago and playing for the Cubs.
Dempster shut down the Red Sox (31-33) for seven innings and won his third consecutive start. He extended his scoreless-innings streak to 22 and lowered his ERA down to 2.11.
A contender might not want to wait until the July 31 deadline and decide to strike quickly and maximize the return on Dempster, who has no-trade rights and will be a free agent at seasons end.
Dempster is friendly and accessible and has a good sense of humor, but that can mask how competitive he really is, the short fuse behind closed doors when he doesnt pitch well.
Not only is Dempster looking like a frontline starter, he even hit his first triple since May 12, 2002, when he was with the Florida Marlins.
I try to spread my triples out every 10 years, Dempster said. I was just excited to finally get to utilize my wheels. (Tony) Campana and I had a bet for first triple, actually, and I won. Im feeling pretty good about that.
Dempster showed he could do it against an American League East lineup (though without a designated hitter and not in the heat of September or October).
The New York Yankees certainly know Dempster, with Jim Hendry in the front office and Larry Rothschild working as pitching coach. The Los Angeles Dodgers are under new ownership and have old friend Ted Lilly on the disabled list.
Epstein has said that the Cubs are better off long-term for having Dempster in the organization. Pitching staffs need someone to look up to, and clubhouses need veteran presence.
You can see a guy like (Jeff) Samardzija, who has just tons of talent, tons of potential, and still is in awe of what (Dempsters) done over his career, outfielder Reed Johnson said. Thats a great example, the way he carries himself, off the field, as well in the gym (with) the hard work he puts in preparing himself for that start.
When you run into a guy who doesnt do that, and has success, it can be bad for a team. Because they think, Wow, I dont have to do anything either. They see what he brings to the table. Its like, Hey man, I got to do the same things if Im going to stick around that long.
Who knows whats going to happen if they have an opportunity to get something special for Demp. The way hes pitching now, theres going to be tons of teams calling about him.
So far, Epstein said those types of calls have been more preliminary, feeling out what the Cubs are trying to do. In January 2004, Hendry took a chance on Dempster, who was coming off Tommy John surgery and has lasted through the boom-and-bust cycles with this franchise.
Ive been here a long time, Dempster said. Its the best place to play. Its really incredible. I dont know what tomorrow holds, but right now Im just enjoying the fact that we won todays game.