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Matt Garza feeling better, might avoid disabled list

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Cubs at Pirates

The facts: 6:05, CSN, 720-AM.

The starters: Jeff Samardzija (6-8, 4.57 ERA) vs. Erik Bedard (5-10, 4.55).

The rest of the series

Tuesday: 6:05 p.m., CSN, 720-AM. Paul Maholm (8-6, 4.09)
vs. James McDonald (10-3, 2.93).

Wednesday: 11:35 a.m., Ch. 9, 720-AM. Ryan Dempster (5-4, 2.11) vs. Kevin Correia (7-6, 4.31).

Updated: August 24, 2012 6:15AM

ST. LOUIS — Cubs pitcher Matt Garza said he felt better the day after exiting his start after three innings because of cramping near his elbow, and he said he expects to avoid the disabled list.

“I could move it today, unlike yesterday,” Garza said Sunday.

Manager Dale Sveum also sounded optimistic but suggested he could use the day off Thursday to push back Garza’s next scheduled start if necessary.

“I think we’ll know a heck of a lot more [Monday], especially [Monday] evening,” Sveum said.

Meanwhile, contenders looking at Garza as a possible trade target before the July 31 non-waiver deadline closely monitored his condition Sunday.

Would teams still be interested if he stays off the disabled list?

“Why not?” said one ranking National League evaluator. “His last pitch [in the third inning Saturday] was 96 [mph] on the black.’’

But would they be interested at the steep price the Cubs are seeking?

“That’s the thing,” he said.

Dempster redux?

Could Ryan Dempster return to the Cubs as a free agent next year after being traded sometime in the next few days?

It’s a long shot at best, but he has said he’s open to the idea, and general manager Jed Hoyer said, “I would never close the door on that at all.”

Hoyer cited Dempster’s 200-innings-per-year track record and long list of intangibles as a leader and teammate.

“It’s fun to see a guy like him bounce back after [a tough 2011],” Hoyer said. “People were questioning him, and I think he’s really proven a lot of people wrong. We’d never really close the door at all no matter what happens here at the end of July. He’s a guy that’s always welcome in a Cubs uniform.”

Daunting debut

Left-hander Jeff Beliveau, the Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2011, made his major-league debut in the seventh inning Sunday. He faced an All-Star gantlet of Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran and David Freese for his first three batters.

He got Holliday on a weak grounder to short and Beltran on a pop-up. Then Freese singled through the right side, and Jon Jay tapped an infield single past the mound. Beliveau then retired Tony Cruz on a lazy one-hopper to second.

He faced four more hitters in the eighth, allowing a walk and a hit, before finishing 12/3 scoreless innings.

“When I was in the bullpen getting the rundown on the three hitters I was going to face, I was like, ‘Geez,’ ” Beliveau said. “I was more nervous in the pen than going out there.”


Sveum said new reliever Justin Germano is his likely spot starter if Garza is forced to miss a turn or a started is traded.

† Right-hander Rafael Dolis was optioned to Class AAA Iowa to make room for Beliveau’s recall from Iowa, where he went 4-5 with a 4.05 ERA in 34 relief appearances.

† The 12 runs the Cardinals scored in the seventh inning Saturday tied an 86-year-old team record for one inning. The Cubs, on the other hand, had allowed 12 on July 30, 2010, at Colorado.

† The Cubs wore No. 10 Hall of Fame patches (left) on their sleeves Sunday to honor Ron Santo’s induction. They plan to wear them again Friday at Wrigley Field.

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