So, guess who’s not in last place anymore? Thanks to a prolonged losing streak by the Astros (during which the Cubs assisted), the Cubs are now in sole possession of fifth place in the NL Central. The Cubs are tied with the Rockies with the second worst record in baseball.
- As you may have seen on Twitter last night, Ryan Dempster will return from the disabled list tomorrow and close out the first half against the Mets. He was previously not expected to return until after the All-Star break, but a couple of pain-free bullpen sessions, and a competitive desire have him coming back earlier. He’ll be on a pitch count of around 80 pitches, though, and you can be sure that a number of teams will be watching his outing very closely. Chris Volstad, who most recently unsuccessfully filled in for Dempster, will probably head back to AAA Iowa.
- On the decision, Dale Sveum says Ryan Dempster’s unique abilities made it possible. “He says he feels as good as he has all year,” Sveum said. “His bullpens are as sharp as anybody’s are going to be. It’s just a matter of some durability issues maybe. The guy keeps himself in phenomenal shape. That’s one part of the decision. If it was somebody other than Ryan Dempster, you probably wouldn’t be thinking about this.”
- Speaking of injured pitchers, Kerry Wood told Dave Kaplan that the final pitch of his famous 20 strikeout game was the first time in his career that he felt a little something in his elbow. Wood would go on to have Tommy John surgery the following year, but it’s probably unfair to conclude that the 20K game was, alone, the culprit. Besides, Wood told Kaplan, “It was worth it.”
- Dale Sveum on Starlin Castro’s day off yesterday (which actually ended when Castro came into the game late): “I wanted to give him a day off before the [All-Star] break, one way or another. I just want him to kick back one day and just observe before the break because he’s not going to get much of a break. I want him to kick back and talk to him about scenarios on the bench.” Not a terrible idea.
- Don’t look now, but marginal trade pieces Jeff Baker and Reed Johnson are suddenly hitting well against lefties, and are hitting .263/.306/.434 and .299/.353/.451 overall, respectively.
- The Onion jokes about the Cubs’ organist. It it humorous.
- BN’er (and Tribune Reporter) Josh Noel recently got a chance to do some exploring at Wrigley Field with Atlanta Braves pitching coach, and former big league pitcher, Roger McDowell. The result was an interesting and different take on the classic ballpark. Nicely done, Josh.
- Today is the 25th anniversary of Eric Show’s beanball to the head of Andre Dawson, which ignited a dugout clearing brawl.