Ryan Dempster hoping to return from disabled list Sunday

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From MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat comes word that Cubs starter Ryan Dempster threw an intensive bullpen session Wednesday afternoon at Atlanta’s Turner Field and could return to the Chicago starting rotation on Sunday in New York if he experiences no lingering soreness in the aftermath of the workout.

Dempster was placed on the disabled list June 16 with tightness in his right latissimus dorsi muscle.

The 35-year-old has registered a superb 2.11 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 66/22 K/BB ratio in 81 innings this season. He’ll be one of the Cubs’ better trade chips as the July 31 non-waiver deadline approaches.

Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for Red Sox

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No surprise here: Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for the Red Sox, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. The Red Sox open the season on March 29 in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Sale will oppose Chris Archer.

Sale, 28, is the fifth different Opening Day starter the Red Sox have had in as many years, preceded by Rick Porcello, David Price, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. Sale started on Opening Day for the White Sox in 2013, ’14, and ’16.

Sale finished second in AL Cy Young Award balloting last year and finished ninth for AL MVP. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a 308/43 K/BB ratio in 214 1/3 innings. Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strike out 300 or more batters in a season dating back to 2003.