Ryan Dempster dropped down to one knee in the infield and carefully lobbed pitch after pitch to his son Brady. He hopped up for each grounder, gloved the ball and chased down Brady as he scampered up the first-base line at Wrigley Field.
All those trade rumors don't seem to be bothering him one bit.
Dempster is scheduled to start for the Chicago Cubs on Friday at St. Louis, and he doesn't know of any reason why he won't be on the mound at Busch Stadium. While trade rumors swirl around the right-hander, he remains focused on his next game with his current club.
"Nothing imminent, not that I know of," said Dempster, who can veto any deal. "I'm sure if they have something they'll come to me. But right now I'm just worried about trying to get ready for tomorrow's game."
Dempster is one of the best pitchers on the market ahead of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. He has won five consecutive starts and leads the majors with a 1.86 ERA.
He will carry a 33-inning scoreless streak into the start against the Cardinals, an impressive run he admits to thinking about "all the time."
"I know I haven't given up a run in five starts," he said before the Cubs hosted the Miami Marlins on Thursday. "I'm not naive. Like I said when I had a no-hitter going before, I know that I have a no-hitter going. I know that I have it. I'm just trying to keep it going, for sure. When you don't give up any runs, you win games. So I like that."
The Cubs haven't won many games this year, which is why they're expected to trade Dempster and right-hander Matt Garza before the deadline. They had won 13 of 18 heading into the series finale against Miami, but were still mired in fifth in the NL Central.
Dempster, who is in the last year of a $52 million, four-year contract, is 67-64 with a 3.72 ERA in nine years with Chicago. The Dodgers, Tigers and Braves all appear to be in the running for the two-time All-Star.
"It's flattering to know that other teams want you but at the same time I just worry about doing my job," he said.