NEW YORK -- One of the things Cubs manager Dale Sveum wants to do in the second half is give Alfonso Soriano a few more days off.
Soriano headed into Sunday's game 3-for-19 on the road trip, and he was batting .174 in six July games with no home runs and one RBI. He did not go deep in his first 30 games of the season, but he has led the National League in the last 48 games with 15 home runs. Toronto's Jose Bautista leads the Majors with 19 homers in that span.
"His presence in the lineup -- we know he's streaky -- but his presence brings a lot," Sveum said Sunday. "He's played pretty dang good defense out there. I've got to find a few more spots to give him days off."
Soriano, 36, has played in 79 of the Cubs' 85 games, and done so despite a sore left knee.
Cubs option Volstad to Triple-A Iowa
NEW YORK -- Chris Volstad will have to wait to end his winless streak.
Volstad, who has not won a game in the big leagues in nearly a year, was optioned to Triple-A Iowa on Sunday to make room on the roster for Ryan Dempster, who was activated from the disabled list. Dempster had been sidelined since June 16 with a sore right lat.
Volstad, whose last Major League win was July 10, 2011, made a spot start for Dempster on Tuesday against the Braves and gave up six runs on seven hits over 4 1/3 innings. He had no problems in the first four innings, then gave up five runs in the fifth.
He will start for Triple-A Iowa on Thursday, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Sunday.
All-Star LaHair eager to get to Kansas City
NEW YORK -- It hasn't quite hit Bryan LaHair that he's an All-Star, and it probably won't until Monday, when he shows up in the National League clubhouse in Kansas City.
LaHair will travel Sunday night with Cubs first-base coach Dave McKay and the Mets' All-Star contingent.
"I've been thinking about it, and the closer you get, the more you think about it," LaHair said, sounding like a little kid before Christmas. "I'm just trying to focus on the job here now and stay as humble as possible."
LaHair, 29, spent nine years in the Minor Leagues, including six at Triple-A, before finally getting an opportunity in the big leagues with the Cubs this year. He received the second-most votes on the players' ballot. He still gets a couple text messages a day from friends and family to congratulate him.
"This morning, I woke up and I'm like, 'Hmm, I've got a game today, and I'm going to Kansas City,' and it's kind of cool -- I'm going to meet my brother and wife there," he said.
The Mets' All-Stars -- R.A. Dickey and David Wright -- were presented their jerseys before Friday's game. LaHair hasn't seen his yet. But he's been trying to visualize what it'll be like in Kansas City.
"I thought about it yesterday when I was out there stretching," he said. "I thought about Kansas City for a second, and trying to compare the two crowds, and thinking it probably won't be close -- it'll be really loud and packed there. Different things pop up -- what's this going to be like? What's that going to be like?"
He'll find out Monday.
LaHair has lost his starting first-base job to rookie Anthony Rizzo and switched to right field. Cubs manager Dale Sveum would like to see LaHair continue to make adjustments. He was batting .287 overall entering Sunday, including a .332 mark against right-handed pitchers.
"You've got to make adjustments to perform and stay here and have success in the long term," Sveum said. "The other guys on the other side of the fence learn how to pitch to you. You need to make adjustments on a constant basis around here to learn how to deal with this kind of pitching on an everyday basis."
The 83rd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. Pregame ceremonies begin at 7:30 p.m. (EDT)/6:30 p.m. (CDT). ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
Fans will also have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2012 MLB.com All-Star Game MVP Vote during the All-Star Game on MLB.com.
Camp, Russell are Sveum's first-half MVPs
NEW YORK -- Who's your first half Most Valuable Player for the Cubs? Manager Dale Sveum picked relievers Shawn Camp and James Russell.
Camp was 2-4 with a 2.86 ERA and one save, while Russell was 2-0 with a 2.43 ERA entering Sunday. Russell had a 2.30 ERA in 101 games since the start of 2011, the second-lowest mark by a National League left-hander.
"Those guys have been phenomenal in the first half," Sveum said. "Without those two guys, we would've been in a lot of trouble. The combination of both of them has been tremendous. They've been consistent all season long. To have the numbers they have, and handle a position they've been put in [that they aren't used to] speaks volumes for what they've done for this team this year."
Both helped fill in when closer Carlos Marmol was injured and ineffective. Hitters were batting .234 off Camp, .237 off Russell entering Sunday.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.