CHICAGO -- United States National Team soccer player and new AS Roma midfielder Michael Bradley is familiar with Chicago. Wrigley Field is another story.
Bradley, who lived around the Windy City as a teenager while his father coached the Chicago Fire, had never been to the stadium. Sunday, he'll get to play at Wrigley Field in the international "Friendly at the Confines" match between Italy's AS Roma and Poland's Zaglebie Lubin at 2:30 p.m. CT.
"This is special for me," Bradley said. "Even if you took the Chicago and Wrigley Field part out of it, to be able to step on the field with Roma is something extremely special to begin with.
"You throw in the fact that we're playing here in Chicago at Wrigley Field. This is actually my first time here. Lived here for four, five years, never made it to the stadium. It should be a great afternoon for everybody."
Bradley signed a four-year deal with Roma on Sunday.
"This is the biggest opportunity of my career," Bradley said. "To come to a club like Roma with the passion, the history, the tradition of the club, it doesn't get any better than this. I'm going to give everything I have to show everybody -- the fans, the players, the coaches -- that I'm a guy who can help the team."
The match is the first in Roma's U.S. Tour, which will also feature stops in Boston and New York. Wrigley Field hasn't hosted a soccer match since 1984, when the Chicago Sting played the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Roma forward Francesco Totti said stepping foot on American soil was a culture shock.
"It's a different culture, a different lifestyle that you can see as soon as you set foot in the country," Totti said through a translator. "People are different. Their attitude is different. It's a positive experience."
He also said with new American ownership of Roma, he's entertained the idea of spending the tail end of his playing career in America.
Chief executive officer Mark Pannes said his long-term vision is turning Roma into the most popular club for American soccer fans.
"People go to Rome as one of the big events in their life," Pannes said. "The idea that we can turn around and bring Rome out to the rest of the world is a great opportunity.
"When we invested in this club, the idea wasn't to buy a European football club. The idea was there's a club in a city like Rome ... a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take it and build. Rome's like New York City in the sense that a winning team in Rome is just at a different level than most teams in most cities around the world."
Pannes said Roma made a deal to be the club in residence at Disney for the next seven years, bringing the entire first squad to practice and play in Florida every winter.
"When you can partner with the greatest family entertainment brand in the world, that's a pretty fantastic platform to then start to market across the U.S.," he said. "It also makes us authentic in the U.S."
Cubs fans should be able to relate with Roma fans, who share a similar passion for their respective team, according to Pannes.
"To bring the world game back to Wrigley is a tremendous opportunity for us," Pannes said. "We're honored to be here. The Cubs have been outstanding in the way they've welcomed us. The facility looks tremendous. It's just going to be a great day tomorrow. We have an unbelievable opponent that we're going to play that taps into the vibrant Polish community in the city of Chicago."
Dempster to Dodgers rumors cooling off
ST. LOUIS -- Most of the scouts at Busch Stadium to watch Ryan Dempster on Friday stayed to watch Matt Garza on Saturday to see if he might be a better fit before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
On Saturday, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the Dodgers are "very unlikely" to get Dempster now because they prefer not to trade their better prospects for a rental player. Dempster will be a free agent after this season. Garza, who is under team control through 2013, may be a more logical target.
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer wouldn't talk specifically about any of the rumors. Hoyer did say Saturday he's kept Dempster up to date about discussions. The right-hander has 10 years in the big leagues and five with the Cubs, so he can veto any deal.
The Dodgers haven't given up, but the tone of rumors cooled noticeably Saturday. Even manager Don Mattingly seemed to be preparing himself for the deal to fall apart.
"Other teams have agendas to build or rebuild, and to put two teams together to make a deal is not as easy as it sounds," Mattingly told reporters in New York, including MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. "But if we're in position to pick up somebody that can help, we're going to do it."
The Dodgers reportedly are refusing to deal pitching prospect Zack Lee because Dempster would essentially be a two-month rental. The Dodgers invested $5.25 million to sign Lee in 2010. If the Dodgers trade Lee, it would more likely be for a player they could control beyond this year who won't be a free agent until 2015.
Was Hoyer disappointed that the Cubs haven't made a deal yet?
"It's July 21, and [baseball] had the first couple real trades in the last 24 hours with the big [10-player] trade between Houston and Toronto and the trade with Brett Myers," Hoyer said. "We were saying, sometimes it takes a deal to break the ice. Maybe that'll break things loose -- who knows? Usually things don't happen early."
If Dempster did leave, the Cubs would talk to him about returning next season.
"I would never close the door on that at all," Hoyer said. "You look at his track record as a starter with the Cubs, even with the hiccup last year, he still threw 200 innings. He's a leader in the clubhouse and a terrific guy to have around. It's fun to see a guy like that bounce back after a terrible year. We'd never close the door on him at all. He's a guy who's always welcome in a Cubs uniform for sure."
Cramping in right triceps cuts Garza's start short
ST. LOUIS -- When pitcher Matt Garza was pulled from Saturday's 12-0 loss to the Cardinals after three innings, at least half of the 43,424 at Busch Stadium, and probably most folks linked into baseball's rumor mill, thought the Cubs had made a trade.
Instead, the problem was cramping in Garza's right triceps. His next start would be Friday at Wrigley Field, and he was to be re-evaluated on Sunday.
"It started getting a little tight in warmups for the third inning," Garza said. "I figured it would loosen up. I went through that [third] inning and felt all right. The first fastball to [Rafael] Furcal didn't feel normal, but I just kept going and got out of the inning.
"I came down and went straight to the cage and tried to make a couple throws, and it just started cramping. I went straight to [pitching coach Chris Bosio] and said, 'Have you ever had this before? Have you ever dealt with this?' He made the call and said it was not worth the risk."
Garza had thrown three shutout innings against the Cardinals, giving up two hits and walking two. The injury was not related to a wild double play in the Cardinals' third.
He underwent X-rays as a precaution, and they were negative. The right-hander was making his 18th start.
The cramping was not believed to have been caused by dehydration. Garza said he'd been drinking water for two days to prepare for the start. He hasn't felt this kind of discomfort before.
"Anything to do with your elbow area as a pitcher, you get nervous," he said. "I'm still young, and I wanted to take the precautions, so I said something. Usually, I wouldn't say anything, and I'd try to go out there and muscle up."
There were scouts from the Dodgers, Yankees, Angels, Royals and Pirates at Busch Stadium to watch Garza. They must have checked their cellphones to see if someone had made a deal.
"If that's what [people] thought, it's going to take a lot more to pull me out of a game than a trade," Garza said. "They're going to have to wait until I'm done."
He could be dealt by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline but he also could be a key part of what the Cubs are trying to do, general manager Jed Hoyer said.
"We've said that all along," Hoyer said before Saturday's game. "He's a really good pitcher. We need more guys like him in the organization, not fewer. We've been very consistent with that all along. He's a guy who can certainly help the team win, not just this year, but next year and for a long time."
It's a tough decision.
"There's always a case when you're dealing with a young starting pitcher who's a horse, who can dominate a game, who has the stuff and all that [to keep him]," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "Those are the million dollar questions that an organization has to deal with. Sometimes it's like gambling when you do trade guys like that. The gamble is the guys you get in return can fill that role, too. You might get one, two, three guys who can be productive Major League players."
Garza, whose wife is expecting the couple's fourth child soon, has a short wish list.
"All I want to do is play ball," he said. "And I didn't get to do that today and I'm just [ticked] off and frustrated."
Bank fondly remembers time spent with Santo
ST. LOUIS -- There isn't a day that goes by that Cubs traveling secretary Jimmy Bank doesn't miss his friend, Ron Santo, who on Sunday will be inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame.
Santo passed away one year before he was elected into Cooperstown, but on Sunday, his family and Cubs fans will celebrate the enshrinement.
Bank and Santo were together for 18 years with the Cubs, and they had dinner nearly every night on the road together. They also were very entertaining. Bank often would be sitting right behind Santo on the bus, or immediately next to him at an Italian restaurant, and call him. And it would take some time for Santo to figure out it was Bank on the line.
"We go into a city like this, where we spent so much time," Bank said of St. Louis, "and the bus driver here who we've had for years was one of two or three bus drivers who, when Ronnie passed away, called me and said, 'Hey, we're going to miss hearing you guys on the bus.'"
To Cubs fans, Santo was a great third baseman or a passionate broadcaster, sharing the team's highs and lows on WGN Radio. To Bank, he was a buddy.
"I didn't think of Ronnie as the ballplayer, the broadcaster," Bank said Saturday. "He was a friend who we had a lot of fun with. As I've told many people, I miss my friend. Ronnie was as good-hearted as anybody. He was fun, loyal, funny, even when he wanted to be funny. He was funnier when he didn't want to be. I don't have to even say this, but the Cubs were such a passion to him."
Santo was devoted to his fans, many of whom went to Cooperstown to watch the ceremony Sunday.
"I'd say, 'Hey, Ronnie, let's go, we've got to get on the bus,' and he'd say, 'No, I'm signing. These are Cubs fans,'" Bank said. "I was fortunate that I knew him for the person that he was. The millions of fans who knew him as a player and broadcaster were very fortunate to know him, too."
Trade Deadline can be tense time in clubhouse
ST. LOUIS -- The non-waiver Trade Deadline can't come soon enough for Cubs players, especially those who have seen their names mentioned on Twitter or heard rumors from family.
Players have asked Cubs manager Dale Sveum for updates.
"Ninety percent of the time there's no substance to all the things that are talked about," Sveum said.
He pointed out how the 10-player deal between the Astros and Blue Jays surprised a lot of people. However, when the Cubs were pursuing Matt Garza, that was leading the rumor mill for about two months.
"That's the 10 percent," Sveum said, laughing.
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer knows it's a tense time in the clubhouse.
"You don't want to be a seller," Hoyer said. "All the guys on your team sit there and look over their shoulder. I think everyone exhales after the Deadline for that reason. I think every player on that field has been part of some rumor at some point this year, even Starlin [Castro] for a while -- that rumor was out there, which was unfounded."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. Rowan Kavner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.