Trade talks could move to the front burner now that the multi-million dollar signing of Cuban prospect Jorge Soler is official.
General manager Jed Hoyer said trade chatter has been ``probably the same the last week or two,'' but he added, ``it's our job to make sure we're in touch with every team and talking to everyone and [making] sure we know what's going on.
``Obviously a lot of teams check in with us as well. Nothing has changed that way, and I think it will sort of maintain this until we get a week out [from the July 31 deadline] and then it heats up.'
Injuries for contending teams like the New York Yankees, who have lost Andy Pettitte and C.C. Sabathia in the last week, might up the ante for Ryan Dempster and perhaps Matt Garza and others. But Hoyer said the added wild card in each league also has changed things.
``Things change from week to week. It doesn't take much of a hot streak to get into a race now,'' he said. ``Now, one hot streak and a couple of injuries to a team in the lead and all of a sudden everyone feels like they're back in the race.
``It's hard to characterize how it will play out this year.''
AWAITING ANOTHER ALL-STAR NOD
Shortstop Starlin Castro seems the likely choice today to be the Cubs All Star representative again. But more important to the 22-year-old might be that his new bosses consider him a young star for the future.
``Theo and I talk about this all the time--when we got here people questioned his ability to stay at shortstop,'' Hoyer said. ``I don't think there is any question. I think he will be an above average defensive shortstop in time. He's made some errors, but he's 22 years old. I think he's going to be a shortstop for a long time. He has really proven a lot to us in a short time and I think he's only going to get better.''
SURGERY FOR STEWART?
Surgery on his ailing wrist may be unavoidable for third baseman Ian Stewart.
``I think it's a strong likelihood,'' Hoyer said. ``He may be able to avoid it but to this point, we have tried to exhaust every option to avoid it and it may well end up with surgery.''
Medical tests have been unable to pinpoint the cause of the pain, and cortisone injections haven't solved the problem.
VOLSTAD STARTS TUESDAY
Chris Volstad will be recalled from Class AAA Iowa to make Tuesday's start in Atlanta for injured Ryan Dempster.
Dempster (sore right lat) will throw off the mound Monday in a bullpen session.