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Cubs say reports Ryan Dempster dealt to Braves just ‘speculation’

Right-hander Ryan Dempster (with president Theo Epsteearly this season) was annoyed by premature reports he had been traded. | John

Right-hander Ryan Dempster (with president Theo Epstein early this season) was annoyed by premature reports he had been traded. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

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Updated: August 25, 2012 6:15AM

PITTSBURGH — Right-hander Ryan Dempster made it through another game wearing a Cubs uniform, though Twitter followers might not believe it.

After reports throughout the
afternoon said a deal was done, multiple reports late Monday continued to say the Atlanta Braves were closing in on a trade for Dempster, with promising right-hander Randall Delgado prominently mentioned as the main player coming to the Cubs.

The Cubs and Dempster denied the reports, but one source acknowledged the Braves’ strong pursuit, while a second said a deal wasn’t
expected to get done Monday.

The reports a deal was done came as news to an irritated Dempster, who has full no-trade rights, when he awoke from a nap Monday. He responded with a tweet from his Dempster Foundation account that read: ‘‘THERE IS NO TRADE dont know where this info came from!’’

When Dempster got to the visitors’ clubhouse at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, he declined to talk about what he and the Cubs referred to as ‘‘speculation.’’

Meanwhile, the Braves and other potential Dempster suitors, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, sent their top scouts to Philadelphia to watch right-hander Zack Greinke’s return to the Milwaukee Brewers’ rotation Tuesday. That’s a factor that might play into the Cubs’ and Braves’ holding pattern.

The Miami Marlins also have committed to becoming sellers after trading right-hander Anibal
Sanchez and second baseman Omar Infante on Monday to the
Detroit Tigers. Scouts now are circling another Marlins right-hander, Josh Johnson.

‘‘There is nothing to report,’’ said Cubs assistant general manager Randy Bush, who is representing the front office on the Pittsburgh trip, with president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer back in Chicago. ‘‘There’s no news. I don’t know how things like this get out there. . . .
Obviously, we’re having trade discussions with a lot of teams.’’

Dempster has about $5.8 million left on the final year of his contract. Despite reports suggesting he is seeking an extension before approving a trade, a source close to Dempster strongly refutes that.

Meanwhile, teammates braced for the anticipated departures of Dempster and perhaps three or four more Cubs in the final week before the non-waiver trade deadline next Tuesday.

‘‘We could sit here all day, and I could tell you what Demp’s done for me,’’ said right-hander Jeff
Samardzija, who allowed only an infield single in eight innings in the Cubs’ 2-0 victory Monday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

‘‘I think we all know there can
be a trade,’’ said manager Dale
Sveum, who spent much of the game Monday alongside Dempster in the dugout. ‘‘But the [deal with the Braves], the whole thing was news to me. The [Braves] obviously . . . leaked it out — or it came out of their city.

‘‘But obviously we can’t sit here and say it can’t happen. Anything can happen at this point.’’

The Braves are one of the teams Dempster is thought to be willing to consider waiving his no-trade rights to join. He said during the weekend his priority is to have a chance to win.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, have begun looking harder at right-hander Matt Garza, even though he was forced to leave his start
Saturday because of a triceps cramp near his pitching elbow. The Dodgers like the idea of having control over Garza beyond this season with a chance to sign him to an
extension, one source said.

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