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Cubs president Theo Epstein won’t rule out Ryan Dempster

Bryan LeHair started seasas Cubs’ first baseman but he’s not patrolling right field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times Media

Bryan LeHair started the season as the Cubs’ first baseman, but he’s not patrolling right field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 3, 2012 12:09PM

Right-hander Ryan Dempster knows he could be traded in July as the Cubs look to the future and contending teams look for pitching help.

But team president Theo Epstein was noncommittal when asked about Dempster on Monday, saying there has been an ‘‘open dialogue’’ between the two about his future.

Asked if Dempster might yet be signed to a new contract, Epstein said, ‘‘Long term, sure. We’ll have to take a realistic look at where we are.’’

Dempster, 35, is in his ninth season with the Cubs and in the last year of a four-year contract.

Bullpen swap

Carlos Marmol was activated and struggling reliever Rafael Dolis was sent to Class AAA Iowa after falling apart in his last three appearances.

Manager Dale Sveum said the move is about Dolis regaining his form.

‘‘I told him it’s not a demotion as much as getting himself right,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘He’s got to be able to throw strikes. It was tough for me to use him because he lost complete command of his fastball.’’

Lefty James Russell and righty Shawn Camp will close games for now, but Marmol could win back the job if he returns to form.

‘‘I feel very good, very confident, and that’s more important,’’ said Marmol, who rehabbed after straining his right hamstring. ‘‘My fastball is there. I worked with the slider, too. I was very comfortable. I struck out three guys and felt very good.’’

Marmol said the closer role is difficult for any pitcher, not just for a rookie such as Dolis.

‘‘When you try to close a game,’’ Marmol said, ‘‘it’s tough because everyone before you has brought you to the [ninth] to try to get three outs.’’

Old ties

Righty Andrew Cashner was part of the offseason deal that brought top first-base prospect Anthony Rizzo to the Cubs from the San Diego Padres.

‘‘A lot changes when a new regime comes in,’’ Cashner said.

‘‘I wasn’t one of their guys. I was a Jim Hendry guy. You move on, and life goes on.’’

Cashner keeps in touch with some of his former teammates and said he watched Kerry Wood’s retirement two weeks ago.

‘‘I texted him the other day and said that growing up watching him, he was an idol,’’ Cashner said, ‘‘and it was a pleasure to get to play with him for a year.’’


Catcher Geovany Soto (left knee arthroscopy) is hopeful of returning soon.

‘‘I told the trainer I’m bored out of my mind and wish I was out there playing with my teammates and grinding it out,’’ Soto said.

‘‘The rehab is going well. The swelling is down considerably, and I expect to be back pretty soon.’’

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