Ryan Dempster wants earlier return from DL
By GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com July 4, 2012 9:50PM
ATLANTA, GA - JULY 04: Anthony Rizzo #44 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates with teammates after a solo homer in the eighth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on July 4, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The facts: 6:10, CSN, 720-AM.
The pitchers: Matt Garza (4-6, 4.01 ERA) vs. Mike Minor (4-6, 6.20).
Updated: August 6, 2012 12:17PM
ATLANTA — Despite throwing from a mound just twice since he went on the disabled list nearly three weeks ago, Ryan Dempster plans to lobby to start Sunday in New York.
And manager Dale Sveum said he’ll consider the moved-up timeline, assuming the lat muscle that put Dempster on the DL has no setback or soreness Thursday and into Friday.
That earlier return could put Dempster back into play in the trade market as quickly as next week’s All-Star break, with the Los Angeles Dodgers still considered by industry sources the front-runner to land him. The Atlanta Braves are among a handful of other teams also interested.
“I don’t think that’s an unreasonable expectation,’’ Dempster said after a rigorous bullpen session Wednesday. “I’ll see if I can talk him into it. … We’ll see how I feel [Thursday]. That’s the big day.’’
Dempster had the second-ranked ERA (2.11) in the National League and was the subject of fast-heating trade rumors when the muscle near his shoulder blade started acting up.
He hasn’t pitched since beating the Boston Red Sox on June 15, finishing that game with a streak of 22 consecutive scoreless innings.
“We’re going to give it some thought,’’ Sveum said of a return Sunday — which would bump Chris Volstad from the rotation after one disappointing start back from a minor-league stint. “I’ll make a decision probably on Friday.’’
The staff is wary of potential risk for a guy who didn’t throw much at all since the injury until this week.
“I’ve been watching him throw, and he looks good,’’ pitching coach Chris Bosio said. “Again, we’re talking about a guy that’s been on the DL for a little bit. … We don’t want to put anybody at risk; we’d never do that. But at the same time, you really want your guys to want to get back out there.’’
The plan, man
Whether Volstad gets another shot to start before another trip to the minors, Sveum said he planned to talk to the pitcher after hearing Volstad disagreed with the staff’s assessment that he strayed from the plan of attack in Tuesday’s 10-3 loss.
“There was a lot of shaking off going on,’’ Sveum said. “We’ll try to get to the bottom of it.’’
As prepared as the new coaching staff is with detailed tendency reports and expectations, it seems to consider few transgressions worse than freelancing.
“I’ll just say we wandered a little bit from what we like to do, yes,’’ Bosio said, “not getting too in-depth. We do have a clear game plan, and when we execute our plan, for the most part, we’ve been in every game.’’
Hits don’t lie
It’s no coincidence that almost all of Luis Valbuena’s hits since joining the roster three weeks ago have seemed huge.
Entering Wednesday’s game, Valbuena was 8-for-39 (.205) with one RBI on a home run when batting with nobody on base — but 5-for-14 (.357) with two doubles, two home runs and 11 RBIs with men in scoring position.
“That’s the kind of hitter you want to be,’’ Sveum said. “It’s not how many you get, it’s when you get your hits. It’s not enough of a track record to say that’s the kind of hitter he is, but it’s been nice for us.’’