Cubs

Cubs about to activate Dempster, and reignite trade rumors

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Cubs about to activate Dempster, and reignite trade rumors

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.

Willson Contreras progressing, but still no timeline for return to Cubs

Willson Contreras progressing, but still no timeline for return to Cubs

Before the Cubs hosted the San Francisco Giants on Day 2 of American Legion Week, Willson Contreras was out in left field running and working out his injured right hamstring.

The All-Star catcher hit the injured list earlier this month after hitting a line drive to the gap against the Milwaukee Brewers. 

That was two-and-a-half weeks ago and the Cubs initially tabbed the Grade-2 hamstring strain as a roughly four-week timeline. But team president Theo Epstein said Wednesday Contreras is not nearing a rehab stint.

"He's in what our trainers are calling the aggressive strengthening phase of his rehab, which is building up the hamstring strength now that he's gotten through the initial injury," Epstein said. "Always what comes with that is the strength deficit that you have to really be mindful of building back up so that you don't risk reinjuring it when you get back to full baseball activities. 

"You're gonna see him on the field a lot more over the next few days and hopefully soon he'll be progressing to baseball activities. He's not on the cusp of starting a rehab assignment or anything like that. He hasn't really progressed to baseball activities yet, so that will be the next step."

The minor-league season wraps up in the first couple days of September, so Contreras won't have much of an opportunity to get game at-bats and innings at catcher if he isn't able to head on a rehab stint soon.

But the Cubs won't rush it with one of their most important players. Contreras was hitting .275 with 19 homers, 57 RBI and an .890 OPS in 87 games before the injury.

In his absence, the Cubs have been pretty well covered with Victor Caratini and Jonathan Lucroy splitting duties behind the dish.

Lucroy - acquired Aug. 8 after being released by the Los Angeles Angels - is hitting .333 with a .798 OPS in 7 games and has impressed with his work as a game-caller and veteran presence. Caratini continues to put up quality at-bats while building on his breakout campaign.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: The Cubs' triumphant return home

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USA Today

Sports Talk Live Podcast: The Cubs' triumphant return home

Luke Stuckmeyer and Fred Mitchell join Kap on the panel.

0:00- Doug Glanville joins the guys to discuss the Cubs' triumphant return home, Nicholas Castellanos and the importance of the starting rotation over the rest of the season.

11:00- Scott Podsednik drops by to talk about another dominant performance by Lucas Giolito. Could the Sox contend next season after taking a series from another division leader?

17:30- Tony Andracki joins Kap from Wrigley Field with the latest on Ben Zobrist's return and if Brandon Morrow's shutdown will have any impact on the Cubs' bullpen.

Listen here or in the embedded player below. 

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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