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Cubs’ Ryan Dempster blasts Mike Quade in dugout, regains cool after win

Ryan Dempster picked up wSaturday though he was irate about being pulled early. | Jared Wickerham~Getty Images

Ryan Dempster picked up a win Saturday, though he was irate about being pulled early. | Jared Wickerham~Getty Images

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Updated: July 10, 2011 6:20AM

PITTSBURGH — Two hours after Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster went off on manager Mike Quade in the dugout for taking him out of the game in the fifth inning Saturday night, both parties downplayed the altercation and any underlying issues it might have suggested.

But it was hard not to link the
actions of Dempster, the team leader, with the Cubs’ rough-and-stumble first half, or to see them as a crack in the harmonious exterior the team has displayed almost without fail all season.

‘‘No,’’ catcher Koyie Hill said. ‘‘We’ve had plenty of opportunities to do that. I don’t see that this one’s going to be the piece of the puzzle that makes the whole Jenga [tower] fall down.’’

By the way, the Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-3, with Dempster (6-6) getting the win after missing a start because of a sore back.

At the very least, the altercation — which occurred as Dempster returned to the dugout to learn he was being lifted for a pinch hitter — looked bad, if not disrespectful.

Dempster, who had thrown 87 pitches, appeared to shout, ‘‘No way!’’ at Quade and pointed at himself as if to indicate it was his game to keep pitching. He insisted on staying in the game to take another inning of burden off an overworked bullpen, while Quade insisted on protecting Dempster’s health after his weird stomach/hip/back problems of the previous 10 days.

‘‘I prefer that we take care of stuff up here, but sometimes those things happen [in front of cameras],’’ Quade said. ‘‘If it’s happening because a guy’s a competitor and he’s pissed off or whatever — even if it’s with my decision — I’m OK with that. He’s earned that right as much as anybody, from a veteran’s standpoint. If a young kid does that, we might have a little different [situation].’’

Dempster was calm in the clubhouse after the game and fell back on characteristic humor.

‘‘I was just mad that because of my sore back, I didn’t get a tee time at Oakmont,’’ Dempster said, ‘‘and it probably just came out in the fifth inning there.’’

But even Quade admitted this was as mad as Dempster has been with him over such a decision, including the one in Dempster’s first start under Quade last August in Washington. Dempster came out of a 0-0 game for a pinch hitter with his pitch count at 79 through eight innings.

‘‘Yeah, he was adamant,’’ Quade said. ‘‘He wanted no part of that. And I like that. I really do.’’

Quade said there might be a time for the two to talk it out later. Dempster said he doesn’t think that’s necessary.

‘‘No way, man — we won a game,’’ he said. ‘‘There’s nothing bad about today. I used to try to beat my little brother up all the time, and we love each other to death. Sometimes you just go through things during the season and you’ve got to figure out a way to move past them, and we did that during the game. We just kept going out there, and we won the game.’’

As surprising as anything else was that Dempster, an example setter, let his anger be so public, a la Carlos Zambrano.

‘‘I think it’s just public because they’ve got cameras everywhere nowadays,’’ he said. ‘‘I think guys used to do that all the time. People called them fiery, and they loved them. Now they call them out-of-control. . . . I’m fiery.’’

Said Quade: ‘‘I’m OK with guys being pissed off that want to still compete.’’

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