When the Chicago Cubs surprisingly put top pitcher Ryan Dempster on the disabled list last week following a brilliant start at Wrigley Field against the Boston Red Sox – a start many speculated would be his last at Wrigley – everyone had a theory. A trade had already happened. A trade was close to being completed, and the Cubs wanted to make sure Dempster didn’t get hurt. Dempster had leveraged his no-trade clause into a couple weeks off while he got his affairs in Chicago in order. And on, and on, they went.
My theory at the time? Dempster really did have a mild lat issue – I wouldn’t even call it a strain – and the Cubs were being extremely cautious while Dempster’s value was at its highest so that he didn’t hurt himself while the trade market was still developing. A source later confirmed that was the case.
And now it sounds like Dempster is saying the same thing, as well. Dempster recently spoke with Paul Sullivan about the injury, and it sounds like it’s a legitimate – albeit minor – issue that Dempster is dealing with, and hopes he recovers from soon.
“You can feel as good as you can just walking around, but until you actually throw and see how it feels …” he said. “But it feels a whole lot better than it did.”
In relation to trade rumors, Dempster continues to keep his head down until there’s something actually brought to the table.
“Just trying to simplify it, control what I can control,” he said. “The trade rumors now are kind of irrelevant until something comes up. That’s fine. I just try to do my job. More than anything, the DL stints have been frustrating because they’ve been little things, [missing] two starts and hopefully two or three starts [this time].
“I pride myself on being able to pitch every fifth day, but I always want to make sure I’m healthy when I go out there.”
Of course, some of this could still just be Dempster tapdancing. But, you’ve got to understand – these guys don’t want to miss time on the DL for no reason. He is expected to throw for the first time since his injury today, and could be back as soon as the first day he’s eligible to come off the disabled list (July 1).
Dempster also addressed theories about his start against the Red Sox being his last. He hung out on the field with friends after the start, so surely Dempster was having something of a going away party, right?
“No, my buddies came down that day and they wanted to go out on the field and play catch and stuff,” Dempster said. “It just happened to coincide with rumors about getting traded. We’d talked about [the trip] back in March …. I’m not an idiot. I know what’s going on. I just try and enjoy it …. I think I’ve done enough [to appreciate Wrigley] over the years to enjoy where I’m playing and really love where I’m playing, and to not need that moment to reflect. And I don’t think I’m done playing anytime soon, so I have a feeling I’ll be pitching a lot of times at Wrigley Field.”
I still very much expect Dempster to be traded by July 31, but I remain unconvinced that his current DL stint is about anything other than a mild lat injury, and the Cubs trying to protect a valuable asset.