06/13/12 11:45 PM ET
Amid trade rumors, Dempster talks with Epstein
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
The topic? Dempster told MLB.com they were talking about an upcoming fundraiser in which Epstein is involved.
But the two could have discussed Dempster's future as the Trade Deadline approaches. The right-hander ranks third in the National League with a 2.31 ERA, but is just 2-3 in his 11 starts. He has said he's willing to waive his no-trade rights if the Cubs want to trade him to better the ballclub.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum said he knows talks will intensify as the July 31 Trade Deadline approaches.
"It's going to come up -- that's the way it is," Sveum said. "The players know that. You talk to them individually and some guys maybe haven't had their name out there before and all of a sudden, it's out there. Sometimes it's a distraction to players, some understand it happens every year."
Stewart heading to DL with sore left wrist
CHICAGO -- Ian Stewart has been trying to play despite a tender left wrist, and apparently, needs some time off.
The Cubs will put Stewart on the disabled list Thursday. The club hasn't said who will take Stewart's spot on the roster, but it could be infielder Luis Valbuena, who was batting .303 in 58 games at Triple-A Iowa. He has played mostly second base for the Iowa Cubs.
"[Stewart] has been battling as much as he can through it," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "It got to the point today where it was pretty bad and we took him out of the lineup. We'll get it evaluated and put him on the DL [on Thursday]."
New Cubs hitting coach James Rowson spent extra time with Stewart at the cage during batting practice on Wednesday. The Cubs have been trying to get the third baseman on track. He was batting .201 overall, and .226 in his last 11 games.
"There's been plenty of things suggested," Sveum said before Wednesday's game. "It's just a matter of being able to apply it. He's got to be able to apply things in the game and in batting practice and the willingness to make adjustments. That's the bottom line, we've got to make adjustments."
Stewart's best season power-wise was 2009 when he hit 25 homers, 19 doubles and three triples. Last year, he was slowed by injuries, and so far this season, he had five homers, five doubles and two triples in 179 at-bats over 55 games.
"We've got to start getting some production," Sveum said.
Stewart has tried to play with his left wrist taped.
"I'm sure it bothers him but when you watch him take batting practice, it's not bothering him then because he's hitting 400 foot home runs all the time," Sveum said.
Rowson, 35, who was the Cubs' Minor League hitting coordinator, took over Tuesday, replacing Rudy Jaramillo, who was dismissed.
Sveum keeping close tabs on Rizzo's progress
CHICAGO -- Cubs manager Dale Sveum is checking the box scores just like everyone else to see what Anthony Rizzo did that day at Triple-A Iowa.
Rizzo, who did not play Wednesday after bruising his right knee on Tuesday, was batting .367 and leads the Pacific Coast League with 22 home runs. He's hit four homers in his last three games.
Sveum and Theo Epstein, the Cubs president of baseball operations, have talked about the highly touted first baseman often.
"We haven't come up with any set time yet [to call him up]," Sveum said Wednesday. "Obviously, we've talked about it. Still, we haven't come up with that set date."
It's hard to ignore his offensive numbers, especially when the big league team is struggling.
"His name is brought up pretty much every day," Sveum said. "He's that guy -- you get your email and look at the Minor League report right away to see if he hit another home run, which he's done quite a bit lately."
Rizzo hurt his knee sliding into a fence in front of the visitor's dugout in Des Moines chasing a popup. He was listed as day to day.
Soto to play a few full games at Triple-A
CHICAGO -- Catcher Geovany Soto will be spending a few more days with the Triple-A Iowa team. The Cubs want Soto to catch nine innings for a couple of games. On Wednesday, he was behind the plate for five innings in his third rehab appearance.
Soto has not played since May 16 because of a tear in the meniscus in his left knee, which required arthroscopic surgery. He began his rehab assignment Monday.
"He's back into Spring Training mode where he needs to get some at-bats and figure it out," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "He wasn't swinging all that good before he got hurt. It'll be nice for him to make an adjustment."
Soto, who had hoped to return this weekend to the big league team, was batting .161 with three homers and six RBIs in 28 games before he was injured.
Cubs outfielder David DeJesus has had some success against Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, batting .304 (14-for-46) against the right-hander. What's the secret?
"He's going to come at you with the fastball," DeJesus said of the Tigers right-hander. "I've been fortunate enough to get one over the plate and be able to do something with it. He's a tough pitcher and you hope you get that one hit and keep it going. He has command of every pitch he throws and that's what's so tough. He can throw any pitch at any time. We just have to stay positive. He's going to go through times when he's dominant and if he makes a mistake, we have to take advantage of it."
The Cubs will face the reigning American League Cy Young winner and Most Valuable Player in the series finale on Thursday. Verlander impressed Cubs manager Dale Sveum on June 12, 2007, when he threw a no-hitter against the Brewers in an Interleague game.
"He can throw his last pitch of a nine-inning game 102 miles an hour, which I witnessed a few years ago in a no-hitter," Sveum said. "His last pitch against the Brewers was 102 on the outside black to J.J. Hardy. It was one of the most impressive things I've ever seen.
"His stuff is as electric as Nolan Ryan's was in his day and J.R. Richard and some of the guys in the past who have this incredible stuff," Sveum said. "He's a guy you can't wait around with. He's got out pitches. If you see a strike, you better do something with it."
The grass at Wrigley Field is different shades of green after the grounds crew painted it following weekend concerts. The plan is to re-sod the field after the homestand ends Sunday. Sveum said none of the outfielders have complained about the surface.
Cubs first-base coach Dave McKay was named to Tony La Russa's National League All-Star coaching staff. McKay was on La Russa's Cardinals staff last year when the team won the World Series. McKay will be wearing his Cubs uniform at the All-Star Game, to be played July 10 in Kansas City.
The Cubs have tweaked the rotation slightly and will start Ryan Dempster (2-3, 2.31 ERA) on Friday in the opener against the Red Sox to keep him on schedule and give Jeff Samardzija (5-4, 3.96 ERA) an extra day. Samardzija will pitch Saturday and Paul Maholm (4-5, 4.91 ERA) will go Sunday.
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.