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Ryan Dempster’s return to the Cubs isn’t likely, but it’s not out of the question

General manager Jed Hoyer said Cubs have had least one informal conversatiwith free-agent right-hander Ryan Dempster. | LM Otero~AP

General manager Jed Hoyer said the Cubs have had at least one informal conversation with free-agent right-hander Ryan Dempster. | LM Otero~AP

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Updated: December 3, 2012 6:51AM



After a throwaway summer, the Cubs are suggesting a throwback look to the winter.

Could it mean the return of former Cub Ryan Dempster as a free agent only a few months after a messy trade-deadline saga that ended with him going to Texas? Or the return of regular 3:05 p.m. game times on Fridays that the Cubs haven’t had in more than two decades?

For now, the game-time changes the club seeks — including adding Saturday night games to the schedule — appear to have a much greater likelihood of getting off the ground than a Dempster deal as the Cubs on Friday wrap up a two-week survey of Wrigleyville residents and season-ticket holders on the subject.

‘‘In the first 24 hours, we had 3,000 people take that survey,’’ Julian Green, the Cubs’ VP for communications and community affairs, said Thursday. ‘‘As of right now, the vast majority would like to see 3:05 games and additional Saturday night games.’’

The surveys were sent to roughly 13,000 people from the Wrigley neighborhood who subscribe to the team’s ‘‘community alert’’ service, along with more than 5,000 subscribers among season-ticket holders, Green said.

The Cubs, who have long sought an increase from the existing limit of 31 scheduled night games (plus three national TV exemptions) per season, plan to use the results to help make a case for their latest proposal with Ald. Tom Tunney and other neighborhood leaders.

On-field personnel have asked for years to have Friday 1:20 p.m. starts pushed back because of the rough turnarounds they create when traveling from road trips after Thursday night games.

Either proposed change requires an amendment to the 44th Ward’s Neighborhood Protection Plan involving Wrigley Field.

‘‘We’re hopeful we can move in that direction,’’ Green said. ‘‘If [the results] went the other way, it would probably be a non-starter.’’

Dempster, 35, on the other hand, quickly could become a non-starter if his value in a thin free-agent market rises quickly this month.

GM Jed Hoyer acknowledged that the club has had at least one informal conversation with Dempster but downplayed the level of interest for either side at this point.

‘‘Obviously there’s mutual respect there,’’ Hoyer conceded, adding that the difficult process in July of working with Dempster on waiving his no-trade rights left ‘‘no hard feelings at all, and that wouldn’t preclude us from bringing him back at all.’’



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