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Ryan Dempster throws off flat ground; no timetable for return

Cubs third baseman Luis Valbuengets down field grounder by Mets’ Ruben Tejadthird inning Monday. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Cubs third baseman Luis Valbuena gets down to field a grounder by the Mets’ Ruben Tejada in the third inning Monday. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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TONIGHT

METS AT CUBS

The facts: 7:05, Ch. 26, 720-AM.

The pitchers: Dillon Gee (5-5, 4.27 ERA) vs. Randy Wells (1-2, 4.91).

Updated: July 27, 2012 6:24AM



Right-hander Ryan Dempster threw off flat ground Monday and experienced no discomfort around his lat muscle, but manager Dale Sveum said there is no timetable for his return.

Dempster, who went on the disabled list June 16 with a sore lat, is unlikely to pitch at Wrigley Field before the All-Star break. The Cubs’ homestand ends Sunday, and they will be on the road for seven days before the break. They return to Wrigley Field after the break July 13.

Dempster, though, also is the subject of trade speculation and might be dealt after he comes off the disabled list.

Prospect puzzle

While the focus has been on first baseman Anthony Rizzo’s arrival from
Class AAA Iowa, Sveum said he has been keeping track of the Cubs’ other prospects, too. Outfielder Brett Jackson is a concern because he has struck out 107 times in 281 at-bats.

‘‘His strikeouts are an incredible rate,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘It’s the pitch selection as much as anything else. At first it was fastballs, but now it’s even soft stuff he can’t seem to lay off of.

‘‘He has strange statistics — an [OPS] of .832 with more than 100 strikeouts. You don’t see that unless it’s [White Sox slugger] Adam Dunn.’’

Sveum said he views Jackson’s development to be as important as Rizzo’s to the organization.

‘‘I don’t see anyone as more important than anyone else,’’ he said. ‘‘As long as they keep improving and developing, that’s how we’ll build this organization.’’

Rizzo shuffle

Rizzo’s arrival Tuesday will mean position shifts for first baseman Bryan LaHair and right fielder David DeJesus.

‘‘Rizzo will play first every day,’’ Sveum said, stressing that means against left-handers, too. ‘‘He’s had great numbers against lefties [at Iowa].’’

Sveum previewed the new look during the Cubs’ series against the White Sox last week, when LaHair played right field and DeJesus moved from right to center.

‘‘He’s a first baseman, and that’s the only position he plays,’’ LaHair said of Rizzo. ‘‘He’s got a big bat, so we have to have him. I’m comfortable in the outfield, and I just want to hit. As long as I’m in the lineup, I don’t really care.’’

Sveum said Rizzo will bat third or fourth.



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