Ryan Dempster wouldn’t mind staying with Cubs
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org May 26, 2012 11:06PM
Pirates second baseman Neil Walker steals second ahead of the tag by Darwin Barney in the second inning Saturday in Pittsburgh. | Gene J. Puskar~AP
Updated: July 3, 2012 11:29AM
PITTSBURGH — Just because Ryan Dempster knows the Cubs will look to trade him in the next several weeks doesn’t mean the longest-tenured player in the clubhouse wants to leave.
‘‘I love being here, man,’’ said Dempster, who has the sixth-best ERA (2.14) in the majors. ‘‘I love being a part of this organization.’’
The chances of Dempster, 35, returning next season if he’s traded this summer would seem remote. But the clubhouse leader and 200-inning-a-year starter likes the thought of being with the Cubs when the promised turnaround gains traction.
‘‘I want to be here and be part of what’s going to be a bright future,’’ he said. ‘‘Sometimes you have to endure some of the tough times in the present to get to that. We’ll just see how it goes.’’
Teammates understand the value of Dempster, whose leadership and personality are essential for a team grooming a lot of young players in a rebuilding effort.
‘‘He’s been through pretty much everything, as a starter and a reliever,’’ said Saturday’s starter, Paul Maholm, who compared Dempster to Matt Morris when he was coming up in Pittsburgh. ‘‘If you’re having issues or whatever, you can obviously go to him, and he’s more than accommodating.
‘‘I think that you need one of those guys if you’re going to have a younger staff — a veteran guy that isn’t afraid to take a guy under his wing and kind of teach him the ropes.’’
Other teams also are well aware of Dempster’s intangibles, which only fuel interest in him as the Cubs finish the June 4-6 draft and start looking at trades and other roster decisions.
‘‘All you have to do is look at his numbers,’’ one major-league evaluator said Saturday on the process of deciding whether to pursue Dempster, ‘‘because you already know the makeup.’’
Walk, don’t guess
Bryan LaHair, who was hitting .364 with all 10 of his home runs by May 15, is in a 2-for-30 slump since then.
‘‘I think he’s getting to the point now where he’s starting to guess along with the pitchers. You can’t do that,’’ manager Dale Sveum said. ‘‘He’s guessing, worrying about what the pitcher’s going to do, ‘Am I going to get pitches to hit?’ and all that. He’s just not taking his walks. Before that, he was taking his walks.’’
Down to .299, LaHair, who singled and went 1-for-4, hasn’t walked since last Sunday and has only three since May 14.
Ian Stewart returned to the lineup after missing Friday’s game because of increased soreness in his left wrist.
◆ Blake DeWitt, who sprained his wrist diving for a ball in the outfield Thursday for Class AAA Iowa, went on the minor-league DL.
◆ Rodrigo Lopez, with a 1.35 ERA in more than a month since going to Iowa, left Friday night’s start after one pitch because of groin tightness.