Opening Day or not, Dempster needs fast start with Cubs


Opening Day or not, Dempster needs fast start with Cubs

MESA, Ariz. Its not that the Cubs werent working hard before, Ryan Dempster said, before making an observation that pretty much sums up the entire organization.

Theres extra motivation any time you have new bosses, Dempster said. You want to make a good first impression. I think its only human nature, so I know a lot of guys have been pushing themselves to do the best they can.

Dempster is two months shy of his 35th birthday and will make 14 million in the final year of his contract. President Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer want to build this team around young players under club control.

Dempster who threw two innings and gave up one run in Mondays 8-7 loss to the Oakland As at HoHoKam Stadium doesnt want to look into the future.

All of those pieces fall into place if you just go out there and do your job, Dempster said. The easiest thing for me to do is just focus on my job, and thats preparing in between starts and every fifth day to go out there and do the best job I can of being mentally and physically prepared to pitch.

Dempster could be getting the ball on April 5 at Wrigley Field against the Washington Nationals. Matt Garza would be the other logical candidate to start Opening Day.

Manager Dale Sveum said a decision will come within the next week, and acknowledged the symbolism behind it: Yeah, that all goes into it, theres no question about it. Who had the better year, the matchups, the leadership, whos been here the longest (and) the longevity of a career.

That could favor an established veteran like Dempster, who drew the assignment last year and put up a 9.58 ERA in his first six starts, part of a month he said hes already forgotten.

(Dempster said) he had an unbelievable spring training last year where he had unbelievable command of his fastball, Sveum said. That might have got him in a little bit of trouble because he mentioned he wasnt using his secondary pitches maybe as much. He was so caught up in having great fastball command, he didnt really work on his offspeed stuff in spring training last year.

Dempster was a little more evasive: Thats a really strong possibility. I never really thought of that. Ive been working on everything this spring. My offspeed stuff is already ahead of where it was last year.

Dempster managed to rebound and finished at 10-14 with a 4.80 ERA. He accounted for 21 quality starts and more than 200 innings. His run support (3.90 average) was the lowest on the staff. There were also times where it seemed obvious he was left in one or two batters too long.

There are all kinds of ways you can make stats look how you want them to look and use excuses, Sveum said. The bottom line is he knows hes better than he showed last year and I think hes on a mission to prove that.

Coming off a down season and heading into a contract year and with new management charting every pitch it shouldnt be hard to find motivation.

Theres a bright future on the horizon, Dempster said, but theres also a bright future right now. There are a lot of good players in here. We got to go out there on the field and be about it, not just talk about it.

Cubs set historic lineup for Game 3 of World Series

Cubs set historic lineup for Game 3 of World Series

Pay attention to this; it will be the answer to a trivia question someday.

The Cubs released their lineup for Game 3 of the World Series Friday night, aka the first World Series game at Wrigley Field in 71 years.

So commit this to memory:

1. Dexter Fowler - CF
2. Kris Bryant - 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo - 1B
4. Ben Zobrist - LF
5. Willson Contreras - C
6. Jorge Soler - RF
7. Javy Baez - 2B
8. Addison Russell - SS
9. Kyle Hendricks - P

With Kyle Schwarber unable to play the outfield, the Cubs lose his bat in the starting lineup, but he will be available off the bench as a pinch-hitter.

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The wind is expected to be gusting out all night at Wrigley, so the Cubs are opting for some power potential early with Soler in right field.

This also represents the fourth straight game in which Jason Heyward is not in the starting lineup.

Indians Game 3 starter Josh Tomlin gave up 36 homers in the regular season, an average of 1.9 homers per nine innings.

Hendricks will go up against an Indians lineup that managed just one run off Jake Arrieta and the Cubs bullpen on a frigid, wet night in Cleveland in Game 2.

Hendricks is also coming off a stellar start at Wrigley last weekend when he absolutely dominated the Dodgers to clinch the National League pennant for the Cubs. In the postseason, Hendricks has a 1.65 ERA, 0.80 WHIP and .164 batting average against.

Playing at an NL park, the Indians are rolling with normal DH Carlos Santana in the outfield:

1. Carlos Santana - LF
2. Jason Kipnis - 2B
3. Francisco Lindor - SS
4. Mike Napoli - 1B
5. Jose Ramirez - 3B
6. Lonnie Chisenhall - RF
7. Roberto Perez - C
8. Tyler Naquin - CF
9. Josh Tomlin

What life was like the last time the Cubs hosted a World Series game at Wrigley Field

What life was like the last time the Cubs hosted a World Series game at Wrigley Field

25,950 days ago.

That's how long it's been since Wrigley Field last saw a World Series game played in front of the ivy.

Sure, 71 years is a long time, but when you break it down by days, it seems even more daunting.

For starters, take a glance at a snapshot of what Wrigley - and the world - looked like on the day of the last World Series game on Chicago's North side:

#FlashbackFriday: 71 years ago, the last time Wrigley Field hosted a #WorldSeries game.

A photo posted by MLB ⚾ (@mlb) on

Obviously, that was well before Wrigley got lights (1988).

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

Here's some more perspective on how stunningly different life was back in 1945:

—The average cost of a new house was $4,600.

—The average salary was $2,400 per year per person.

—Gas cost 15 cents a gallon.

—New cars were just over $1,000.

—Life expectancy was 65.9 years (life expectancy in America is 79.3 years in 2016).

—Population of the U.S. was just shy of 140 million (In 2016, America's population is more than 324 million).

—Major League Baseball had only 16 teams, including zero teams west of St. Louis.

—The Giants had yet to move to San Francisco and were still in New York. The Dodgers had yet to move to Los Angeles and still made their home in Brooklyn.

—Washington had a baseball team, but they were called the Senators, not the Nationals.

—St. Louis, Boston and Philadelphia each had two baseball teams, including the St. Louis Browns, Boston Braves and Philadelphia Athletics.

—Tigers pitcher Hal Newhouser won American League MVP honors while Cubs first baseman Phil Cavarretta took home the NL MVP with only six homers, though he did hit .355 with a .949 OPS.

—The first Super Bowl was still 22 years away from being played.

Among world events, 1945 was also when Adolf Hitler died, Germany surrendered in World War II and the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Japan.

America was also getting used to Harry S. Truman as president after Franklin D. Roosevelt died in office in April 1945.

Of course, if we go as far back as the last time the Cubs won the World Series, life would be quite a bit different even in the 37 years between 1908 and 1945.