NEW YORK -- Ryan Dempster was the Cubs' Opening Day starter, and he will be on the mound Sunday when the team closes the first half of the season against the Mets.
Dempster, sidelined since June 16 with a sore right lat, will come off the disabled list on Sunday, returning to the rotation. The Cubs will make a roster move at that time. Chris Volstad (0-7, 7.94 ERA) had been scheduled to pitch.
On Friday, Dempster threw on flat ground and passed all the tests.
"He says he feels as good as he has all year," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Friday. "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."
Dempster (3-3, 2.11 ERA) will be limited to 80 pitches, Sveum said.
"It's a tough [injury] to gauge because it's just a matter of how I felt," Dempster said. "I started to feel better, especially the last week or so. It responded well today from throwing the bullpen today."
Of course, as soon as Dempster returns, so will the trade rumors around the right-hander, who is in the last year of his contract with the Cubs.
"That's OK," Dempster said. "[The trade rumors have] been there. That stuff doesn't bother me. I'll just try to do my job the best I can and let those things take care of themselves. I'll focus on going out there and taking it one start at a time, one pitch at a time and just go from there."