CINCINNATI -- Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano was expected to rejoin the team Saturday in Cincinnati, in plenty of time for his next start Monday against the Pirates.

Zambrano (5-6, 4.64 ERA) returned to Venezuela to be with an ailing nephew after his start Tuesday against the Nationals.

Meanwhile, Carlos Silva threw 50 pitches over 2 2/3 innings in his rehab start Friday night for Class A Peoria. Silva gave up two hits, both singles, and struck out one. The right-hander, who is 10-5 with a 3.92 ERA, has not started for the Cubs since Aug. 1, when he came out of a game against the Rockies after four batters because of an abnormal heart rate. He underwent a procedure Aug. 9 to correct that.

The right-hander was expected to throw 45 pitches over three or four innings for the Minor League team.

Quade keeps focus on rest of season

CINCINNATI -- Mike Quade has heard that Cubs general manager Jim Hendry is interviewing other candidates for the managerial job, and he just shrugs.

"It's not a distraction," Quade said Friday. "[I'm] not even that curious."

Quade took over on Monday after Lou Piniella moved up his retirement date to attend to family matters. Hendry prepped Quade for all the rumors about who will take over in 2011 last Saturday.

"I'm actually surprised I remember most of [the meeting], because I was buckled," Quade said of the discussion in Chicago. "[Hendry] is going to interview people, this will give him time to do that and not have some crush at the end of the season. He knows I'm good with it, and why wouldn't you be? Somebody said something about Eric Wedge [being interviewed Thursday]. Look, there's a lot of good baseball people out there. I get it."

Hendry did meet with Wedge, who managed the Cleveland Indians from 2003-09. It's one of several interviews Hendry plans on having in hopes of picking the next manager by the first week of November, when the Cubs will hold their organizational meetings.

Quade, who has been on the coaching staff for three-plus years and was the Triple-A Iowa manager for four seasons, is a contender for the job. What if he's not picked?

"I love Chicago, I'd love to be here," Quade said. "I manage, I do this 'audition' ... and we see where we go from there. For me to think, 'If I don't get it, I'll do this,' that's not how I'm geared.

"Right now, I want to do the best job here," he said. "If the scenario doesn't involve me running this club, then you take a look at other scenarios. Just let me get through these five weeks."

Quade hasn't changed his routine and is still throwing batting practice. Quade entered Friday's game against the Reds 3-0, and he is the first Cubs manager to win his first three games since Jim Riggleman started 4-0 in 1995. The only other Cubs managers who have started as strong were Jim Essian in '91 (5-0); Rogers Hornsby in '30 (4-0); and Frank Chance in '05 (5-0).

Quade said he's probably more involved than most seasoned Major League managers. He handles the running game, sets the outfield defense.

"I said from Day 1 I have to do this my way," Quade said.

Blake DeWitt led off Friday against the Reds, the third time he's done so this season. That was Quade's idea, and the move was made more to get struggling Tyler Colvin out of the top spot.

"Blake is such a do-anything guy that it made sense," Quade said.

He'll continue to mix and match the outfielders as Piniella did. But he's not paying attention to the rumors.

"You understand the enormity of it," Quade said of his new job. "Once it's 7:05, I enjoy it and actually I find it relaxing to a certain extent."

Dempster gives his support to Strasburg

CINCINNATI -- Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster underwent Tommy John surgery in August 2003 and said he feels better than before he had the procedure done. Hopefully, the Nationals' Stephen Strasburg will bounce back [from his impending surgery] as well.

"There's no guarantees with any surgery," Dempster said Friday, "but if you get the surgery done and have success with the rehab, he can go back and pitch the way he pitched, with the same type of velocity. My velocity is as good, if not better."

It will take time. Strasburg, the No. 1 pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, is sidelined with a significant tear in his ulnar collateral ligament, and he is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery. Dempster said it is an 18-month process to come back.

If Strasburg can throw better after having the surgery, he'll be even more amazing.

"Then you can punch his ticket to the Hall of Fame," Dempster said. "The poor kid -- I feel bad for him. He can have all the money in the world, but what he goes through, none of us had to go through that. His first start in the Minor Leagues was televised more than half of our big league starts are. He's never been allowed to just play.

"They've put these unfair expectations on him," Dempster said. "Don't get me wrong, his stuff is electric and different from everybody else -- it really is. But it's hard to stay healthy, it's hard to make every start, it's hard to keep your arm healthy, and it's unfair to him to say he's going to make All-Star Game after All-Star Game. He's got to pitch and stay healthy."

Strasburg's starts have produced sellout crowds for the Nationals. He's got to be cautious when he does return, Dempster said.

"I remember coming back and you tell yourself, 'Don't overthrow,' but you get in front of 40,000 people and there's a runner on base, and you're going to try to throw through a brick wall," Dempster said. "But he's got a great head on his shoulders and he's going to work hard."

Dernier switches to No. 2

CINCINNATI -- Cubs coach Bob Dernier wore No. 20 when he played for the team and pitcher Thomas Diamond offered it back to him.

"It was his number first," Diamond said.

On Friday, Dernier switched to No. 2 in honor of his former coach, John Vukovich, who passed away in March 2007. Dernier keeps a picture of Vukovich on his locker. The number 20 was special, but the memory of "Vuk" is even more so.

"To me, numbers are meant to be passed on," Dernier said.

Dernier, who was the roving baserunning instructor in the Minor Leagues, joined the Cubs' staff on Monday when Mike Quade was promoted from first-base coach and outfield instructor to manager, replacing Lou Piniella.