Cubs

Another step: Dempster getting closer to return

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Another step: Dempster getting closer to return

ATLANTA Ryan Dempster felt good enough that he didnt want to rule out pitching on this road trip, even if its hard to take that too seriously.

Manager Dale Sveum pretty much dismissed the idea, but it does speak to Dempsters state of mind.

For the first time in more than two weeks, Dempster threw off a mound and passed Mondays test at Turner Field. Now the focus will be on how his sore right lat muscle responds in the morning.

Anythings possible, Dempster said after that 40-pitch bullpen session, but at the same time Im not going to try and rush something. Im just going to make sure its ready to go. I dont want to go out there and put us as a team at a disadvantage by not being ready to throw 90, 95, 100 pitches140.

Dempster was in a good mood, looking forward to another bullpen session on Wednesday and doubting that he would need to make a rehab start at a minor-league affiliate.

Sveum is targeting Dempsters return for the first series after the All-Star break (July 13-15). That start against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field would figure to be a showcase for the 35-year-old Dempster, who has no-trade rights and is positioned to become a free agent at seasons end.

Dempster, who has a 2.11 ERA through 12 starts, needs to prove hes healthy first, but he could be a difference-maker for a contender. He went on the disabled list on June 18 with a scoreless-innings streak that had reached 22 innings.

Can you pick up where you left off?

Yeah, I hope so, Dempster said. Obviously, going out there and not giving up runs every time is kind of unrealistic. But at the same time, I feel good about executing my pitches and thats all I can worry about. For as bad as I felt, I feel really good right now.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Cubs offense takes a step in right direction, when will rotation follow?

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Cubs offense takes a step in right direction, when will rotation follow?

For the first time in almost two weeks, the Cubs offense started to look more like the team we know they can be in Wednesday afternoon's victory over the Brewers. But when will the starting rotation follow? Kyle Hendricks pitched better than his stat line once again, but it's getting late in the season to continue to use that rationale for any Cubs starter.

Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki break down the Cubs-Brewers series and Kelly sits down with David Bote for a 1-on-1 chat about his whirlwind week. Leila Rahimi also catches up with MLB Network's Dan Plesac to get his thoughts on Javy Báez's place in the NL MVP race, how the Central division is shaping up and X-factors for the Cubs and Brewers down the stretch.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Is Milwaukee the biggest NL Central threat to the Cubs?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Is Milwaukee the biggest NL Central threat to the Cubs?

Phil Rogers, Jim Litke and Harry Teinowitz join Kap on the panel. Joe Maddon tweaks the lineup and the Cubs offense explodes to beat the Brewers. Is Milwaukee still the Cubs’ biggest threat in the Central? And is Javy Baez still the Cubs’ MVP?

Plus Roquan Smith puts on the pads to practice but will he have them on in Week 1 at Lambeau?  

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: