No matter what, Dempster wants to finish strong

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No matter what, Dempster wants to finish strong

Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011
Posted: 10:32 p.m.

By PatrickMooney
CSNChicago.com CubsInsider Follow@CSNMooney
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CINCINNATI Clubhouses around baseball are filled by impressionable kids, September call-ups who are getting a taste and dont know if theyll ever be back.

Ryan Dempster holds a 14 million player option for next season.

Dempster has all this leverage, but isnt looking forward to vacation. The Cubs extended him to 128 pitches on Tuesday night, two away from his career high and the most hes thrown since 2001.

All Dempster had to show for it afterward was another hard-luck loss, this time 2-1 to the Reds in front of a mostly empty Great American Ball Park. Others are definitely watching. All the young pitchers look up to Dempster and try to follow the example he sets.

Thats always important, crossing the finish line, Dempster said. Getting through times like back in 01 probably helped me (later on). Its probably not the healthiest thing to go out there and throw 120-plus pitches every start.

But to do it once in awhile especially toward the end of the season when youre still strong and you feel good (is) important.

Given that veteran status, the Cubs (65-83) will likely reconfigure their rotation down the stretch so that Dempster will get three more starts and the chance to reach 200 innings for the fourth consecutive season. Hes at 183.2 after going seven innings and giving up two runs to the Reds (72-76).

Dempster, an affable, down-to-earth personality, can be seen walking the streets of Lakeview with his son. Major League Baseball recognized his charitable work on Tuesday by announcing that he was the Cubs nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award.

But behind all that, there is a deeply competitive side. Everyone saw that on July 9 in Pittsburgh, when Dempster got into a shouting match with Mike Quade in the dugout after the manager pulled him for a pinch-hitter after five innings.

This time Quade let Dempster bat in the seventh, even though nine times out of 10 the manager would call on a pinch-hitter. With a runner on third, Quade also allowed Dempster to finish the inning and strike out Jay Bruce.

That was out of respect for him, Quade said.

Theres no doubt that Dempsters numbers are down this season 10-12 with a 4.66 ERA. But in a year where the Cubs have had no idea what theyll get from one start to the next, hes been a consistent rotation piece. Theyll need more of those in 2012.

After a brutal April 9.58 ERA in six starts Dempsters showing that he still has something left.

Im just glad that I bounced back after such a terrible first month of the season, Dempster said. Im just trying to finish as strong as possible. A good year for me would have been us playing a lot better.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Tyson Ross could be one of the final pieces for Cubs’ offseason puzzle

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AP

Tyson Ross could be one of the final pieces for Cubs’ offseason puzzle

Tyson Ross could be one of the final pieces of the offseason puzzle as the Cubs try to defend their World Series title while still planning for the future.

The Cubs left this week’s winter meetings in Maryland still involved in the Ross talks, sources said, monitoring an intriguing pitcher they had targeted before the 2015 trade deadline.

The San Diego Padres didn’t really buy or sell during that pennant race and made another curious decision last week when they didn’t offer Ross a contract for 2017. MLB Trade Rumors projected Ross would have made $9.6 million during his final year in the arbitration system.

After issues involving his right shoulder wiped out almost his entire season, Ross underwent surgery in October to address thoracic outlet syndrome.

Ross was San Diego’s Opening Day starter during a 15-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, but didn’t pitch again, clouding a future that once had him looking like a trade-deadline chip and one of the best pitchers in the free-agent class after the 2017 season.

That’s when Jake Arrieta will be looking for his megadeal and John Lackey might be in retirement and Jon Lester will be turning 34. That’s why the Cubs are so focused on pitching this winter and trying to balance out an organization tilted toward hitters.

[SHOP CUBS: Get your World Series champions gear right here]

Kyle Hendricks proved he will be a pitcher to build around – and the Cubs believe Mike Montgomery can evolve from a swingman into a fifth starter and maybe something far more valuable – but depth is a real issue.

Ross made 30-plus starts in 2014 and 2015, when he earned an All-Star selection and accounted for almost 400 innings combined. He will turn 30 in April and is seen as a positive force within the clubhouse. He has a 6-foot-6 frame, a second-round-pick pedigree and a Cal-Berkeley education.

Reports have already linked the Texas Rangers and Pittsburgh Pirates to Ross and not completely ruled out a return to San Diego. During an offseason where the free-agent market is essentially devoid of reliable frontline starters, there could be sticker shock, even with a rehabbing pitcher.

Trading for Wade Davis meant the Cubs were out of the bidding for Greg Holland, another All-Star closer who helped turn the Kansas City Royals into World Series champions. Holland spent this year recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, but he will still be in position to capitalize after Mark Melancon, Aroldis Chapman and eventually Kenley Jansen reset the market for closers.

With Ross, the Cubs will have to get a better sense of the medical picture and the price for all that upside.

Beyond a winning culture, the Cubs can sell the pitching infrastructure that helped turn Arrieta into a Cy Young Award winner and transform Hendricks into an ERA leader and keep the rotation remarkably healthy.

“Those really talented pitchers are going to be in demand, even those that are coming off an injury,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said this week at National Harbor. “We’ll stay engaged on some of those guys, but they’ll have to be just the right talent.

“We’ll have to feel good about the medical and the return to play. And the fit on the club would have to be right, too. But the true elite guys have a real market, even if they’re coming off down seasons.”

Cubs' MVP Kris Bryant signs multi-year extension with Adidas

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USA TODAY

Cubs' MVP Kris Bryant signs multi-year extension with Adidas

Kris Bryant just keeps on winning in 2016.

Two months after leading the Cubs to their first World Series title in 108 years, Bryant signed a multi-year extension with Adidas.

"It's a phenomenal time to be partnered with Adidas with all the energy and momentum that the brand has right now," Bryant said via a press release. "Adidas embraced me as part of the family from the start."

Bryant was named National League MVP after hitting .292 with 39 homers and 102 RBIs. He hit .308 with three homers and 8 RBIs in the postseason.

Bryant first signed with Adidas in 2014 after the Cubs made him the No. 2 pick in the 2013 MLB Draft.