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Early signs point to Ryan Dempster staying

Updated: November 4, 2011 12:08PM

MILWAUKEE — Ryan Dempster, the Cubs’ Opening Day starter and one of few critical pieces of the rotation who’s still expected to be with the team next spring, isn’t ready to commit either way about the player option in his contract next year — especially given the uncertainty surrounding the Cubs’ baseball leadership.

But he doesn’t sound like he wants to leave town anytime soon, either.

‘‘I enjoy being a Chicago Cub and playing here, that’s for sure,’’ said Dempster (10-9), who starts Saturday night against the Milwaukee Brewers. ‘‘I’ll worry about that at the end of the season.’’

Dempster, who has been a 30-save closer and All-Star starter in eight seasons with the Cubs, makes $14 million next season if he exercises his option. Depending on what the next general manager wants to do, one possibility could be to renegotiate that option into a multi-year extension.

Dempster, 34, has moved his full-time residence to Chicago and seems open to staying long-term.

‘‘I think that’s something that I’ll have to look at at the end of the year, and hopefully something that they’re interested in happening here,’’ he said. ‘‘The main thing for me to do is focus on [tonight’s] game.’’

Since the firing of general manager Jim Hendry last week, and given the uncertainty surrounding the rest of the baseball operations the next few months, Dempster said he has a hard time envisioning what the Cubs might look like next year and beyond.

But, he added, ‘‘I really like hearing the owners talk about accountability and things like that. That shows that that’s real important.

‘‘Sometimes when you’re sitting there and you have uncertainty and you don’t know, things can be intimidating. But at the same time, it can be exciting, especially with people like [the Ricketts ownership], and especially Tom [Ricketts]. As much as he’s done in his professional life, to think what he’s going to do with the Cubs is actually kind of exciting.’’

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