NEW YORK -- After another strong throwing session Friday, Ryan Dempster was scheduled, as expected, to return from the disabled list to start Sunday against the New York Mets - giving teams looking for pitching an early look at his health and strength before the All-Star break.
``I can't control those things,'' said Dempster, who hasn't pitched since June 15 because of a lat muscle strain. ``I'm just glad I'm feeling good and back to being healthy. ... Especially in the last week or so it really started to turn a corner and I just feel really good.''
Manager Dale Sveum said Dempster will be on a pitch limit of 70-80, and he has the full bullpen and at least a couple starters at his disposal if necessary because it's the final game before a four-day break.
Dempster, who has a 2.11 ERA this season, could be one of the first pitchers traded between now and the July 31 non-waiver deadline if he fares well Sunday. Among several teams that have shown interest, the Los Angeles Dodgers are still considered by major league sources to be the favorites to land Dempster.
``That's OK,'' he said of trade rumors picking up again. ``They've been there. Doesn't bother me. I'm just going to try do to my job the best I can and let all those things take care of themselves.''
--One day after saying Starlin Castro's defense was too valuable to rest him, Sveum kept Castro out of the starting lineup for the first time this year - in part because the All-Star shortstop won't get the same break next week teammates will. Until Friday, Castro was the only NL player to start all of his teams games this year.
--Dempster's activation from the DL Sunday likely means the return to AAA Iowa of Chris Volstad after only one, disappointing start.