Disappointed Ted Lilly defends his pal Ryan Dempster
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com August 4, 2012 11:04PM
Alfonso Soriano hits an RBI double in the fourth inning off Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw. Darwin Barney scored on the play. | Lisa Blumenfeld~Getty images
CUBS AT DODGERS
The facts: 3:10, Ch. 9, 720-AM.
The pitchers: Justin Germano (1-1, 1.98 ERA) vs. Joe Blanton (8-9, 4.59).
Updated: September 6, 2012 6:38AM
LOS ANGELES — Ryan Dempster wasn’t the only one disappointed with the Cubs’ inability to get a deal done with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
‘‘It would’ve been great,’’ said Dempster’s pal Ted Lilly, the Dodgers pitcher who was a big reason Dempster used his no-trade rights to create — as Cubs brass called it — ‘‘a market of one [team].’’
‘‘And along with that, there’s no doubt that he would’ve made our team better, with the exception of Thursday,’’ Lilly deadpanned, referring to Dempster’s rough debut for the Texas Rangers.
Lilly said he and Dempster didn’t talk as much as some might think leading up to the deadline as Dempster blocked a trade to the Atlanta Braves and stayed focused on L.A.
‘‘I talked to him a little bit, but I kind of let him call me,’’ said Lilly, who hasn’t talked to him since the trade. ‘‘I just imagined that he had a lot of people probably pulling in different directions. Obviously, he was one of the prized pitching targets out there for a lot of clubs. I’m sure, besides myself, there were a lot of guys that would’ve liked to have added him to their teams.’’
Lilly said he also didn’t talk to Dodgers management on Dempster’s behalf.
‘‘I don’t think he really needs me or anyone else to vouch for his character and his work ethic and what he’s all about,’’ said Lilly, whose shoulder injury is one of the reasons the Dodgers were looking for pitching and eventually traded for Joe Blanton in a waiver deal Friday.
Lilly defended Dempster’s side in a weeklong saga that put the longtime fan favorite in the cross hairs of widespread fan backlash for rejecting the Braves’ hard deadline.
‘‘Why even have that in play if it’s never going to be used?’’ Lilly, a former union representative, said of Dempster’s rights as a 10-year veteran with at least five years with his current team. ‘‘He caught a lot of heat for it. So what’s the point of having 10-and-five [rights] if you put that player in [that] position? … It puts a player in a tough spot.’’
Garza says he’s ready
Matt Garza’s second attempt at a bullpen session in as many days Saturday went well enough that he feels more certain than ever about rejoining the Cubs’ rotation Tuesday in San Diego.
‘‘Better believe it, dude,’’ said Garza, who has been sidelined by elbow stiffness since July 21. ‘‘I’m champing at the bit and ready to go. … They told me Tuesday a couple of days ago, so that’s what I’m shooting for. If it changes, it’s not my control.’’
Not so fast, said manager Dale Sveum, who needs to see how Garza’s elbow responds Sunday, and maybe Monday, before making a decision.
‘‘I’m glad he thinks that way,’’ Sveum said, ‘‘but it’s not his decision.’’
If Garza can go, he’ll be on a limit of about 70-80 pitches, Sveum said.
If he can’t go, the Cubs probably will recall Casey Coleman from Class AAA Iowa for a spot start, though lefty prospect Brooks Raley also is in the discussion.