ATLANTA Talking last month on the South Side, Jake Peavys advice to Ryan Dempster went like this: Make sure its ready.
The circumstances and extent of the injury are different. The Cubs had placed Dempster on the disabled list with a sore right lat muscle, to get out in front of it. The White Sox ace had pitched through severe pain, before undergoing a radical surgical procedure in 2010.
But Dempster felt good enough after throwing a regular bullpen session on Wednesday at Turner Field that he hoped to convince the Cubs to start him before the All-Star break.
I think they trust me to make the right decision, Dempster said. I also dont want to go out there on a 50-pitch limit. That doesnt do us any good.
Of course, it wont entirely be up to Dempster, whod like to throw on Sunday at Citi Field against the New York Mets. But Dale Sveum wouldnt rule it out. The manager said two or three starting pitchers could be available out of the bullpen for that game, the final one before a four-day break.
Dempster hadnt thrown off the mound in more than two weeks when he began Mondays bullpen session. Depending on how he feels in the morning, it could be all systems go.
Not everybodys Ryan Dempster, Sveum said. Hes so in tune with his mechanics and his arm and how he feels. Its at the point where its not like wed leave him out there for 110 pitches or something either. Hes feeling as good as he ever does. Thats the kicker.
This comes at a time when the Cubs are expected to become aggressive sellers on the trade market. When Dempster went on the disabled list on June 18, he had pitched 22 consecutive scoreless innings. He has no-trade rights and is positioned to become a free agent at seasons end, but first has to show hes healthy.
Theres always risk when youre talking about a guy with an injury, but, again, well kind of evaluate it and well go from there, pitching coach Chris Bosio said. He looks good, but were talking about a guy thats been on the DL for a little bit. So theres always risk and concern, especially with a guy thats throwing the ball so well this year.
(Well) come up with a smart decision. We dont want to put anybody at risk. We never do that. But at the same time, you really want your guys to want to get back out there.
The night before, after another disappointing start from Chris Volstad, Sveum said the Cubs would run him out there again because they didnt have any other options.
Now Dempster appears to be back in the picture, perhaps for his final days in a Cubs uniform. He has a 2.11 ERA in 12 starts made around a quad injury and the lat issue. Theres the thought that the Cubs might not want this hanging over their All-Star break.
Theres no question about it, it would be good for him, Sveum said. (Outside the injuries), everythings been about as good as you can imagine on the mound. But I think it would be good for his own psyche, too, to get him out there.