Ryan Dempster to be activated from disabled list Sunday

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Many contenders will likely have a close eye on Sunday’s game between the Cubs and Mets, as Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com reports that Ryan Dempster will be activated from the disabled list to make the start for the North Siders.

Dempster hasn’t pitched since June 15 due to a sore right lat muscle. The 35-year-old right-hander right-hander was cleared to return after making it through two bullpen sessions this earlier week and throwing off flat ground this afternoon. While he will not require a minor league rehab start, the Cubs plan to limit him to about 80 pitches in his return.

Through 12 starts this season, Dempster has an outstanding 2.11 ERA and 66/22 K/BB ratio in 81 innings. The impending free agent has earned ten and five rights, so he has the ability to block any trade, but he has indicated that he’s willing to accept a deal in the right situation.

A-Rod to join ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth

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Alex Rodriguez’s post-retirement renaissance continues apace. After starring as a studio host for Fox’s playoff coverage over the past couple of years, A-Rod is about to be named to, arguably, televised baseball’s top job: color commentary in ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth.

Michael McCarthy of The Sporting News is hearing that ESPN is going to give the gig, vacated by Aaron Boone by virtue of his hiring by the Yankees, to Rodriguez. There he’ll join Jessica Mendoza and whoever they get to replace play-by-play man Dan Shulman, who chose to step back from the Sunday night job following last season. This, by the way, marks the second time A-Rod has taken over Aaron Boone’s job given that he replaced Boone at third base for the Yankees in 2004.

The twist: A-Rod is likely to keep his Fox postseason job too. While some broadcasters work for multiple networks, it’s pretty rare for Fox to allow its talents to work for competitors like that. Apparently they believe keeping A-Rod — who five years ago was one of the most despised figures in baseball — is worth it. What a difference a few years makes.

In other news, Alex Rodriguez is likely to be shunned mightily by the current crop of BBWAA voters when he hits the Hall of Fame ballot in a couple of years. At the rate he’s going, though, their successors will put him in Cooperstown via the Ford Frick Award sometime in the 2040s.