09/27/11 9:45 PM ET
Cashner will play in AFL
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Cashner, sidelined most of the year because of a strained right rotator cuff sustained after his first start on April 5, has been limited to a relief role since coming off the disabled list on Sept. 5.
The plan in the AFL, which gets underway Oct. 4, is for Cashner to continue to pitch in relief. He will be limited as far as his pitch count, but may also throw up to two innings per outing, Cubs pitching coach Mark Riggins said on Tuesday.
Can Cashner start again?
"I think he can," Riggins said. "If he does start, we have to watch the number of innings. Medically, there is a certain amount of innings that you can jump up to before you run into some danger with stress on the arm. So you kind of have to build up from year to year the number of innings."
While Cashner continues to build up arm strength and get work in with the Mesa Solar Sox, where he fits in the Cubs' pitching plans in 2012 is still to be determined. Riggins said once the new Cubs general manager is hired, he will sit down with the medical staff and decide what's best for the right-hander.
"Right now, we're just hoping he has a great fall league," Riggins said. "I don't think starting is out of the question. It's just, what's best for him."
The Cubs' first-round pick in 2008, Cashner has a 1.86 ERA in six games. Maybe he's better suited to pitching in relief? Maybe he could be the closer some day?
"Eventually, he could be," Riggins said. "He has the ability for that -- plus his stuff, his composure on the mound, he throws strikes, he has command of three pitches. It's not out of the question that he could do that at some point in his career. The thing about a closer is they don't step in there and be a closer right away. It's an earned spot on a staff. That's in the future for us."
Quade interested in fate of Sox coaches
SAN DIEGO -- Mike Quade is keeping tabs on the changes with the White Sox from far away, but the Cubs' manager admits he's more focused on Ozzie Guillen's coaching staff.
"I haven't thought that much about it," Quade said of Guillen's departure from the White Sox and decision to sign with the Marlins. "I have a good friend who is the third-base coach [Jeff Cox], and I'm concerned about him.
"Whenever something like that happens -- and I know Ozzie but I'm not close to him like I am [Cox] -- but I'm always concerned about those [kinds] of people," Quade said of the coaches. "It's baseball and these things happen.
"They're good baseball people, and they'll wind up on their feet," Quade said of Cox and others on the White Sox coaching staff.
Hill: Dempster a major force in Cubs' clubhouse
SAN DIEGO -- Wednesday is the Cubs' season finale, and it seems appropriate that Ryan Dempster will start.
One of the more popular players in the Cubs' clubhouse, it could be Dempster's last start with the team. He has a $14 million player option for 2012, and it may be that he waits to see who the next general manager is before deciding whether to return.
"'Demp' is 'Demp,'" Cubs catcher Koyie Hill said of the right-hander. "He shows up every day. He'll do anything to win the game. He's a good teammate.
"He's influential in the clubhouse," Hill said. "It's good to have a guy like that on the team. You have guys go to him -- young guys, old guys. He connects with everybody -- from the clubhouse staff to people walking on the concourse. He's a good guy for others to [model] themselves after."
There's no way Dempster can finish with a winning record -- he's 10-13 heading into the game -- but he can end on a positive note. Dempster is 0-for-September so far, and has not won since Aug. 11. He hasn't let his personal struggles affect him.
"Even when he doesn't have a game that he likes, it's another opportunity to learn," Hill said. "You never hear an excuse from him. On days he doesn't have his good stuff, you don't know about it until after the game. He's just a solid guy for the team. If he chooses to do something else, he'll be missed in the clubhouse."
Dempster, who was the Cubs' Opening Day starter, enters Wednesday's game with 196 2/3 innings pitched, and is vying for his fourth season with at least 200.
"You don't understand how hard it is to do that," Hill said. "You have to endure a lot. You see him every fifth day, but that's tough. They beat their bodies up pretty good. Guys who have a great work ethic, it really pays off -- and their stuff doesn't fall short in the sixth."
Cubs prospects Brett Jackson and Jeff Beliveau began workouts on Tuesday with Team USA at its complex in Cary, N.C., in preparation for the IBAF Baseball World Cup in Panama City, Panama, from Oct. 2-15.
Jackson will also play in the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, from Oct. 20-25. He was a member of last year's Pan-Am Qualifying team that finished 10-1 and tied for third in the tournament.
Beliveau was recently named the Cubs' Minor League Pitcher of the Year. The right-hander was 6-2 with a 1.57 ERA and five saves between Class A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee.
Iowa Cubs catcher Chris Robinson will not play in the World Cup tournament, but will join Team Canada for the Pan-Am Games in Mexico.
Carlos Peña has 100 walks, three shy of his personal high. Only four Cubs players in the last 80 years have reached 100 walks in a season: Peña, Sammy Sosa (103 in 2002 and 116 in '01), Gary Matthews (103 in 1984) and Richie Ashburn (116 in '60).
Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano has reportedly placed one of his two Chicago-area homes on the market for $969,000. A 13-room home in suburban River Forest, Ill., Zambrano originally purchased the property in 2006 for $1.199 million. Interested? The property has four full baths, a loft, a finished lower level with a large recreation room, a three-car garage and a sunken great room with a wall of windows and a vaulted ceiling.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.