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Posted: Monday June 18, 2012 2:48PM ; Updated: Monday June 18, 2012 7:23PM

Cubs place Dempster on DL due to tight lat

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CHICAGO (AP) -- The Cubs may be hanging on to Ryan Dempster for a little longer than expected. They placed the right-hander on the 15-day disabled list Monday with tightness in his right lat muscle.

Dempster, who has been subject of trade speculation over the past few weeks, said it's something he had been dealing with since his June 5 start at Milwaukee.

"It's just gotten harder and harder to get loose and maintain," Dempster said. "I felt like I was going south in the way I was feeling versus feeling better each time."

Ironically, the start against the Brewers began a stretch of 22 scoreless innings by Dempster that will now be put on hold. He has allowed just 11 hits and three walks, winning all three starts.

Dempster is 3-3 this season and his 2.11 ERA is second in the major leagues despite playing on the worst team in the majors.

He earns $14 million this season and will be a free agent at the end of the year. With the Cubs rebuilding, the 35-year-old Dempster has acknowledged that it's unlikely he'll be with the team beyond the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein was reluctant to discuss trade talks involving Dempster, but said the injury could set back a potential move.

"Generally when players have these minor injuries, it's typical to wait until they come back and establish health before there's trade talks," Esptein said.

The team offered no timetable on Dempster's return, but Epstein said the team is taking a cautious route.

"We're going to play it conservatively with this one as well he's throwing," he said. "We want to nip this in the bud and make sure it doesn't turn into a strain or anything like that."

The Cubs recalled left-handed reliever Scott Maine from Triple-A Iowa to fill the roster spot. Right-hander Randy Wells will start in Dempster's place on Wednesday in the series finale against the White Sox.

Two of Wells' 10 appearances this year have been starts. He's 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA on the season.

Maine is up for the third time this year. He is 0-1 with a 6.35 ERA in six relief appearances.

Also on Monday, the Cubs activated catcher Geovany Soto from the 15-day DL and optioned backup Welington Castillo to Iowa.

Soto was in the lineup Monday, catching and batting eighth for the series opener against the White Sox.

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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