Ryan Dempster won't pitch again until after the Al Star break, but an exact timetable for the right-hander's return still isn't certain.
``The earliest obviously would be some time after the All Star break, but we're still going to make sure he's built up to be ready,' manager Dale Sveum said Friday.
``Every time has been on schedule on what we're trying to do and the progress each time he throws and how he feels, but obviously there's no timetable [on his return.] We'll just keep monitoring.''
Dempster said he feels no pain any longer from the soreness in his right lat that put him on the disabled list as of June 16.
``The inflammation is out. I'm pain fee. I just don't know how I'll feel throwing.
``But it won't take long [to come back] once I get out there.''
Dempster threw on flat ground Friday, his first activity in two days. Depending on how he felt, he might throw off a mound this weekend.
``It's just day to day,'' he said.
With Dempster out, the rotation will have as many as two dates he would have thrown before the July 9-12 All Star break.
``We have a couple options, but we'll finalize that after [Friday's] game,'' Sveum said.
Because of the off day Thursday, there is some flexibility. Sveum said Casey Coleman or Chris Volstad, now pitching at Class AAA Iowa, could be used.
``It would be Volstad's day, so we have some options we're weighing,'' Sveum said.
Volstad threw seven innings Thursday against Oklahoma City, allowing two earned runs on six hits with no walks and seven strikeouts.
With righthander Bud Norris pitching Friday for Houston, left-handers Steve Clevenger and Bryan LaHair were in the lineup. They might not start the rest of the series with lefties J. A. Happ and Wandy Rodriguez scheduled.
But it won't affect rookie left-hander Anthony Rizzo, who is at first base to stay, Sveum said.
``Rizzo is batting third. I don't see me changing that,'' he said. ``He does things you want in a third hitter. The jury is still out, but you want your best hitter, and if guys are on, you have to have the maturity to get them over and in. You want a real solid guy who can do a lot of things. Those key RBI in the early innings of a game are the most important things to take an early lead on the road and to come back at home.''
There is concern that Ian Stewart's sore wrist hasn't responded to additional cortisone injections.
``The shots don't seem to be making a difference,'' Sveum said. ``We'll have to see what we do.''
Stewart has hoped to avoid surgery to try to determine an exact cause for his pain. He has had MRIs and seen specialists without a clear diagnosis of the problem.