CHICAGO — Just when the Chicago Cubs figured they were getting healthy, a freak accident landed right-hander Ryan Dempster on the disabled list with a fracture of his big right toe. He could be out for up to a month.
Dempster was hopping over the dugout railing to go on the field and celebrate Sunday's victory over the Milwaukee Brewers when he caught his back leg on the railing and landed hard, injuring his toe. An X-ray taken Tuesday revealed the non-displaced fracture.
"It's not pretty. It's pretty ugly right now," Dempster said.
Dempster had been scheduled to pitch Tuesday night against Atlanta and said he hoped he would only miss three starts, including one after the All-Star break.
But manager Lou Piniella said that was an optimistic view and that after talking with trainer Mark O'Neal, Dempster could miss up to three weeks and maybe a month.
"I was coming out of the dugout, stepping over the top of the railing there, sitting up on the ledge, and caught my left foot on the rail as I was coming over and it spun me around and slammed me into the ground," Dempster said.
"When I did it, I thought I just ripped my nail back on my foot. ... My foot I guess just the way it hit came down straight into the ground."
Dempster had planned to numb up his toe and make the start Tuesday, but decided to get an X-ray to make sure everything was OK.
"You never want to do anything like this," said Dempster, a 17-game winner last season.
"It's a weird thing. Three days before that I took a ball off the shin and kick-saved one to myself. And I took a ball off my face in batting practice, off the cage, and I was just fine. And then something as simple as that happens and I put myself on the DL."
The Cubs recalled right-hander Kevin Hart from Triple-A Iowa, one day after he'd been optioned back to the minors, and plan to put him in the rotation. He'll start Wednesday against the Braves.
Carlos Zambrano, on three days rest, made the start Tuesday night in Dempster's place.
"We were healthy for a day," Piniella said. On Monday, the Cubs had activated Aramis Ramirez, Reed Johnson and Angel Guzman off the disabled list. And now they've put one of their most reliable pitchers right back on.
"Dempster is sick about this and so am I," Pinella said. "It's something you never expect to happen. Just a freak thing."
Dempster is 5-5 with a 4.09 ERA in 17 starts for the Cubs this season. He made the switch back to starter last season after being the Cubs' closer for three years. He went 17-6 with a 2.96 ERA in 33 starts and was picked for the All-Star team in 2008.
Now he's got to get treatment and stay in shape. He'll have another X-ray right after the All-Star break.
"I was just going out to celebrate the win," he said. "It's unfortunate, but at the same time, it's a small little injury. Hopefully the time will be minimal and I'll be back and ready to go."