07/02/12 7:05 PM ET
Dempster throws, on track for post-break return
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Dempster, sidelined since June 16 with a sore right lat, threw off the mound for the first time since June 15, when he threw seven shutout innings against the Red Sox, his last start.
"Everything went great today," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Monday. "The bullpen was probably better than expected. We're just playing it by ear and see how he feels tomorrow."
Dempster joked he might be ready for the weekend series against the Mets. The Cubs' first post-break series against the D-backs is more realistic.
"We'll just see how I feel [Tuesday] and go from there," Dempster said. "[I'm] just stretching it out and stepping on the gas a little more each time and seeing where we get."
Neither Sveum nor Dempster felt the right-handed needed to make a rehab start in the Minor Leagues.
"The kind of guy he is and how he knows his body and the command of his pitches, I think as long as the bullpen goes good and we have a simulated game, that'll be enough," Sveum said.
Dempster has not given up a run in his last 22 innings over three starts, and was 3-3 with a 2.11 ERA in 12 starts before the injury.
"Obviously, going out there and not giving up runs every time is unrealistic," Dempster said. "At the same time, I feel really good about executing my pitches. For as bad as I felt, I feel really good now."
Stewart set for surgery, likely done for year
ATLANTA -- Ian Stewart will undergo surgery in the next week to 10 days on his left wrist and is likely done for the season. But the Cubs third baseman is relieved that doctors found something wrong.
Stewart has been slowed by soreness in his wrist, and on June 18, saw a specialist, Dr. Thomas Graham, at the Cleveland Clinic, and received a cortisone shot. However, Stewart still had discomfort.
A few years ago, Stewart had fractured a bone in his wrist, and Graham determined that another small bone was in contact with the larger one. Removing it should alleviate the pain.
"In a way, it's a good thing," Stewart said by phone from Chicago on Monday. "It's a relief that something did show up."
The procedure will take place at the clinic in two phases, beginning with arthroscopic surgery.
When could Stewart return? Doctors said it might not be until early or middle September.
"You don't know if there's enough time [to play]," he said.
Stewart revealed he was going to have surgery late Sunday on his Twitter account, @Ian_Stewart_9. Asked by a fan when he was coming back to Wrigley, Stewart wrote, "Looks like next spring training, if the cubs bring me back."
Acquired from the Rockies for Tyler Colvin before the season began, Stewart batted .201 in 55 games with the Cubs, hitting five home runs. Could he be the Cubs' third baseman next season?
"He's got all the ability to do it," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Monday. "I'd like to see some adjustment in the swing and stuff. Whether [the problem] was the hand or not, I think there still needs to be some adjustment. The defense is something you always want and the power and athleticism he brings. There just aren't that many around any more at third base who have those kind of attributes."
Stewart did have good batting-practice sessions but just couldn't replicate it in games.
"He'll even tell you the results have to start coming, whether it's something in the wrist or not," Sveum said. "This game is built on productivity, and you've got to produce to stay in the lineup."
Stewart's replacement at third, Luis Valbuena, was batting .226 in 16 games with three home runs. He was acquired off waivers from the Blue Jays on April 4.
"That was a heck of a pick by Theo [Epstein] on the last day of Spring Training," Sveum said of the acquisition by Epstein, the Cubs president of baseball operations. "He's a nice player to have in your organization for awhile. He can do a lot of things."
LaHair soaking in All-Star nod
ATLANTA -- So, what do you do to celebrate being named to your first Major League All-Star team after spending nine years in the Minor Leagues? Bryan LaHair took a long bath.
LaHair, who will join Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro on the National League team July 10 in Kansas City, finished second in the player balloting to the Reds' Joey Votto, who was selected in the fan balloting as a starter.
"In Arizona, Willie Bloomquist came up to me and said, 'Hey, I voted for you,'" LaHair said Monday. "He said, 'Just keep swinging, keep hitting.' I have the numbers. I know my RBI totals could be higher. I think I've handled my role pretty well and been a tough out most of the time.
"Just the fact I got the respect like that from the players so soon and they respect my game and how I go about my business, I'm really thankful for that," LaHair said.
He was tied with Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt for third among NL first basemen with 11 home runs behind Adam LaRoche (15) and Votto (14). LaHair, replaced last week at first by top prospect Anthony Rizzo, was batting .287 with 11 doubles and 24 RBIs entering Monday's action.
LaHair, 29, has toiled in the Minor Leagues for nine seasons, making a Major League team's Opening Day roster this year for the first time. Cubs manager Dale Sveum told LaHair and Castro they were going to the All-Star Game during a team meeting Sunday.
"[Sunday] was a really weird feeling," LaHair said. "I went out in the dugout at the start of the game, and the first time the fans got loud, it kind of hit me -- 'I'm in a Major League ballpark right now, and they just told me I'm going to the All-Star Game.' You see Wrigley fans and the crowd and you remind yourself you're in a Major League ballpark again. I was kind of like a little short of breath -- I wasn't sure how to feel or react."
Once the Cubs arrived in Atlanta and he got settled into the hotel, he took a long, warm bath.
"I tried to breathe a little bit and soak it all in and just enjoy it and visualize it," he said.
Chris Volstad, who will make his first start for the Cubs since May 17 on Tuesday, was a teammate in a summer league when he was a high schooler with Cubs lefty Scott Maine. The two played for different high schools in Florida, and faced off in a game at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter. Maine still sounded upset about losing the game, because a run scored on a wild pitch, although Volstad was sure it was a passed ball.
"It's just funny that we ended up on the same team," Maine said.
Volstad was eager to get back on a big league mound after making eight starts at Iowa, where he was 2-3 with a 4.44 ERA. In eight earlier starts with the Cubs, he was 0-6 with a 7.46 ERA.
"I'll be the first to admit I definitely needed to go down there," Volstad said. "I had some things I needed to work on and things I needed to iron out. I've done it before, but this time was different. I took the time I needed down there to work on some things. Nothing mechanical really but my approach and in-game stuff."
• The Cubs have reportedly signed 16-year-old Dominican shortstop Frandy De La Rosa for $700,000. In accordance with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the international system now operates with money pools and penalties for teams that exceed their pools. For the 2012-13 signing period, every team will have the same pool of $2.9 million. Starting in 2013-14, the pools will be based on the prior season's winning percentages, with a range of approximately $1.7 million to $4.8 million.
• Outfielder David DeJesus was day to day with a stiff neck, but was expected back in the Cubs lineup on Tuesday.
• Double-A Tennessee second baseman Logan Watkins and pitcher Nick Struck were named the Cubs' Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month. Watkins, 22, batted .352 with three doubles, three triples, one home run and 11 RBIs in 23 June games. He had a season-high 13-game hitting streak, in which he batted .375, from June 13-30.
Struck, 22, was 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA in five June starts, walking eight and striking out 23, while limiting the opponent to a .181 batting average. He gave up three or fewer runs in all five of his outings and recorded three quality starts.
• Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster and Braves catcher Brian McCann met with families of children with 22q at Turner Field on Monday. The visit is part of The Dempster Family Foundation's effort to raise awareness of the disorder.
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.