Well, if you weren’t looking forward to seeing Chris Volstad out there again before the All-Star break, you’ve got something to root for.

After another successful and pain-free bullpen session yesterday, Ryan Dempster, who’s been on the DL for about three weeks with a sore right lat, says he wants to return not after the All-Star break as previously discussed. He wants to come back on Sunday in New York.

“We’re going to give it some thought,” Dale Sveum said of Dempster’s request to get back into the rotation early. “Everything is going so well and we’ll probably evaluate him tomorrow and Friday and make a decision probably on Friday and see how everything goes the next couple of days.”

Obviously the Cubs have to be very careful here. While I’m sure both they and Dempster would like him to return to the mound as soon as possible for a variety of reasons, they certainly don’t want Dempster to rush things, hurt himself more seriously, and then be unavailable in trade later in July.

Sveum acknowledged that risk.

“There’s always risk when you’re talking about a guy with injury but we’ll kind of evaluate it and we’ll go from there,” Sveum said. “You have to get all the parties involved and [we] will make an announcement on that. I have been watching him throw and he looks good but we’re talking about a guy who has been on the DL for a little bit so there’s always risk and concern, especially with a guy that has thrown the ball so well this year.”

If Dempster doesn’t return on Sunday, he’ll likely make a start later in the week, or that weekend after the All-Star break. In any event, he’ll have at least three starts after the break to demonstrate health and effectiveness.

  • Evan

    I might be going to the game Sunday. The determining factor will likely be whether it’s Volstad or Dempster starting.

    • Featherstone

      Meh, I’d go just to see Rizzo and Castro. Those 2 players are the core of our team and the ones who will ultimately determine if we succeed in the next 10 years or not.

    • willis

      Yeah I would want to see those guys as well, but watching a game when Volstad is pitching is crazy painful. We all just know exactly what is going to happen, and it happens sometimes in the 4th, sometimes in the 5th, sometimes in the 6th…on and on. It’s the same thing over and over…and sitting there just knowing, no matter how great other players are playing, no matter what the score is, that Volstad is going to lose the game for you. It’s tough. I’d definitely hold on to my cash vs. watching that train wreck.

      Now if Demp gets the nod (God willing), obviously you go and cheer your ass off for the Cubs.

  • Steve

    Featherstone, why not Rizzo, castro, AND LaHair??

    You cant tell me that both Bryan and Anthony going deep didn’t get your red American blood pumping last night??

    • Featherstone

      The reason I say not LaHair is because Castro just turned 22 in March, Rizzo is 22 and Lahair is 29 with a good chance of being traded. The Cubs are built around Castro and Rizzo reaching their primes in the next 3-4 years. LaHair may be around in mean time, but I dont necessarily anticipate him being there when the Cubs intend to compete for the division.

      • baldtaxguy

        I love watching LaHair even more now since Rizzo has joined the team.  Agree that LaHair may not end the season with the Cubs but just watchig his value increase game to game, being selected to the ASG, just a great story. If he must go, I’m hopeful he brings some solid return.

    • Featherstone

      Oh and seeing LaHair and Rizzo crush those balls defintely did get me excited, although Rizzo moreso than LaHair.

    • Jeff

      This line-up has definitely been stabilized with the addition of Rizzo, we sorely have needed a #3 hitter. The line-up with DeJesus, Castro, Rizzo, Soriano, Lahair, is the best 1 through 5 that we have had in a while.

      We would be doing much better in the standings had we started out with this line-up and Travis wood be pitching then like he is now with Volstad in the minors. the bullpen is still a major re-working project.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        I would argue that it has much less to do with a #3 hitter per se (Castro hit as well there as he has batting #2) than it does with #1/#2 and CF.  CF has been an offensive blackhole for the Cubs, and Rizzo let the Cubs slide DeJesus over there.  The Top 3 in the batting order also has had a hole: you had DeJesus, Castro and one near automatic out or another.  Rizzo now gives you a sold 1-2-3 (personally, I’d consider flipping Rizzo & Castro, but it would have only a small effect).

        So, Rizzo basically pushes two problems out of the lineup.  LaHair deserves a little credit, too: the fact that he can play RF makes this possible.

        • Jeff

          I’m not sold on Castro in the 3 hole just yet, Rizzo will make Castro better, plus he has more power. Maybe in a few years you could have Castro and Rizzo as #3 and #4, but he’s not ready yet. MHO

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Ah, just to clarify, I am one of those who thinks that the traditional ideas of who should bat #2 and #3 are backwards, especially in the NL.  Because the bottom of the order creates a lot of outs (especially in the NL), the #2 batter comes up with 2 outs an awful lot.  It’s really good to have a guy with power as well as OBP there.  You also get 20-30 more PA’s batting #2 than batting #3 over a season.  You should expect to see a few more runs scored over a season (and thus maybe a win or two) by flip-flopping a lot of traditional #2 & #3 hitters.

        • Drew7

          “CF has been an offensive blackhole for the Cubs, and Rizzo let the Cubs slide DeJesus over there.”

          Bingo: when I did the position-adjusted wOBA, I realized the impact of Rizzo was more than just adding his bat alone; DD improved the Cubs’ wOBA in Center by taking it from well below-average up to average, and Lahair took RF from a hair below average up to well above average. So really, they improved drastically at 2 positions offensively while, at the very least, making a slight improvement (overall) at 1st as well (even if the platoon of LaHair/Baker will end up outproducing Rizzo offensively, his defense should more than make up for it).

  • hansman1982

    If you throw him out there for 75 pitches and he does well that means buyers get an extra 4 days of no-games for that performance to sink in. If he stinks up the joint you hope the All Star game distracts them a bit. Then again, if he gets injured the shit hits the fan.

    How about this, “name” Volstad the starter for Sunday and have Dempster scheduled to throw a bullpen session about the time that it would be right for him to start pre-game warmups. If he looks and feels good you scratch Volstad. If he doesn’t then you wait until Thursday.

  • Rizzonkulous

    Steve, I don’t mean to answer for Featherstone, and don’t mean this as any kind of slight to LaHair as he’s surpassed just about everyone’s expectations, but a 29 year old 1st year ballplayer wouldn’t be considered a “core of the team” for the next 10 years. Especially now that we’re out of the Steroids era and most 30+ year olds have started aging like 30+ year olds again. LaHair is a great story and seems like the kinda guy you want to root for, but he’s not going to be around by the time the Cubs become relavent again.

    • Featherstone

      That’s exactly what I mean. I love Lahair’s story and I wish him the absolute best, but I really dont know if he fits into the Cubs long-term plans. If Lahair was 4-5 years younger this wouldn’t even be a question, but sadly age catches up to all of us sooner or later.

      • Steve

        I agree, to an extent….yet if I’m the Cubs I hang onto him unless we get a solid offer for him. If we are just going to go through the motions next year ( which it looks as if we are) then how can you beat his salary and production?
        “Long term plans”…yeah yeah, I hear ya, and i get it..Well, what if he progresses instead of digresses and hits 40 homers and 100 rbi this year and next?? 29 IS old for a 1st year player, yet he still is in his prime, albeit the backside.
        I’m not arguing, just pointing out… his BA , OBP and slugging % are, well, all-star level.

        Just sayin….

  • elizarudi15

    So, I’m assuming when Dempster comes off the DL, Volstad will be sent back to Iowa…or who would it be?

    • willis

      I could actually see someone from the bullpen being sent down and Volstad being moved to the pen. I still think he could be effective for an inning or two in relief. Hopefully that’s the approach taken.

      • Mysterious4th

        But who would you send down to make room for him in the ‘pen? Lately the pen has been doing a decent job, compared to earlier this season.

        • elizarudi15

          I agree. I think we have a pretty good mix in there right now.

          • willis

            I have know idea other than maybe Ascenio…but not sure about his options. I’m ok with Volstad going to Iowa to start for a couple different reasons (keep stretched, maybe sneak him into a trade) now that I think about it some more…but also, there is untapped talent there and he could be very good as a reliever.

            But to your point, the pen has been very good lately. I’m really happy with what I’ve seen from Corpas.

  • TakingWrigleyToSaoPaulo

    Would love to see a LaHair for Zach Lee trade. Think it would be a win, win trade.