When Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster was spotted in the stands Wednesday talking with team president Theo Epstein hours before game time, things went atwitter, literally and figuratively.
For all anybody knows, Dempster and Epstein could have been talking about the Stanley Cup Finals.
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But it's almost certain that the Cubs will have a different look and feel by the July 31 trading deadline and probably before then.
Dempster will be one of the most sought-after trade targets as will Wednesday night's starter, Matt Garza, the losing pitcher as the Cubs fell 8-4 to the Detroit Tigers at Wrigley Field.
It's also possible first-base phenom Anthony Rizzo will be up from Class AAA Iowa sooner rather than later.
With the Cubs far out of contention, other teams no doubt have started calling. Manager Dale Sveum knows he and the 25 guys in the clubhouse will just have to deal with it.
"It's one of those things that comes up every year for every team whether you're contending or not contending," Sveum said. "If you've got valuable players, it's going to come up. That's just the way it is. The players know that.
"Yeah, you talk to them individually. Sometimes it's a distraction to players. You understand it that this happens every year."
As far as having a whole new team in the not-too-distant future -- something not altogether unnecessary given the Cubs' 21-41 record -- Sveum remained philosophical.
"It's part of the game," he said. "Hopefully, when things like that happen, if you do make trades, you get people back who are going to impact your team in the next few years, if not right away. Those are the things you hope for."
The Cubs picked up Rizzo in a trade from San Diego for young pitcher Andrew Cashner. Rizzo was said to be OK Wednesday, one day after bruising his knee chasing a pop foul at Class AAA Iowa.
Conversations may be heating up again to promote Rizzo, who was talked about a few weeks ago as someone the Cubs might use in American League parks, where they have an extra hitter.
"We've had them here and there, talked about it," Sveum said. "We haven't come up with any set time yet. Obviously, we've talked about it. We still haven't come up with that set date.
"He's that guy. The name is there. It's obviously getting built up and it's getting to that point where it's getting nearer now."
As for Garza (2-5), he was strong until the sixth, when the Tigers scored 4 runs to erase a 4-1 deficit. He's never been fazed by trade talk, whether last winter or now.
"I just want to play it's not my choice," he said. "If they want to keep me here, I'm going to keep playing and going out there every five days and do what I'm set to do, and that's get as many outs as possible and keep my team in the ballgame."
He added one kicker.
"I'll pitch on the freakin' moon," he said.
They might like him up there.