CHICAGO – As free agents begin considering their future destinations, the Cubs are not wasting any time reaching out to their ideal players.
General manager Jed Hoyer said Thursday that the front office has contacted some players and agents to gauge their interest as the Cubs primarily search for starting pitching help.
"We've certainly identified a lot of guys we're interested in and will go after," Hoyer said. "There's been contact and it's preliminary. A lot of players will end up expressing interest."
The Cubs are looking to add at least two starting pitchers, Hoyer said, and also will pursue an outfielder, preferably a center fielder. Hoyer didn't rule out free agent and former Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster returning, acknowledging there has been initial contact. However, Dempster remains a long shot to return after he nixed a trade to Atlanta and finally was dealt to Texas this past season.
"That was an interesting week in the history of the Cubs and Ryan Dempster for sure," Hoyer said. "But at the same time, there's no hard feelings at all, and that wouldn't preclude us from bringing him back at all."
Hoyer said he is hopeful reliever Shawn Camp will return next season, though discussions are ongoing.
Baez's AFL season finished: Shortstop Javier Baez, the Cubs' 2011 first round draft pick, saw his valuable experience in the Arizona Fall League abruptly end.
Baez suffered a non-displaced fracture in the tip of his right thumb on Saturday, which won't require surgery, however he will not play in any more AFL games this year. Baez is expected to be fine for spring training. Hoyer said he was unsure how Baez injured his thumb, though he believed it may have occurred during a postgame celebratory high-five.
"It's unfortunate," Hoyer said. "He'd had some really good moments during the fall league, but he also had some really good learning moments.
"Being such a young player in the fall league and having to make those adjustments was really good for him."
Injury updates: Starting pitcher Matt Garza will have a scan in mid- to late November to examine the health of his right elbow, Hoyer said.
Garza missed the final two and a half months of the season because of a stress reaction in his right elbow. Hoyer said Garza "continues to feel good" making them optimistic about the situation. The Cubs also are keeping tabs on third baseman Ian Stewart, who underwent surgery on his left wrist in July and was sidelined the rest of the season.
The Cubs have until Nov. 30 to decide if they want to tender Stewart a contract. One of the biggest challenges the Cubs face in assessing Stewart's 2012 performance is determining the impact of his ailing wrist on his struggles.
"If we feel like his health is going to be good and a lot of last year was because of the wrist then it becomes a much easier decision," Hoyer said. "We're following his health and really tracking how his recovery is."
Iapoce joins organization: On Thursday, the Cubs named Anthony Iapoce special assistant to the general manager for player development.
Iapoce, 39, will be in charge of the Cubs' minor league hitting program. He spent the past three seasons as the roving hitting coordinator for the Toronto Blue Jays.