All signs point to Dempster for opener

MESA, Ariz. -- It’s only a matter of days now before the Chicago Cubs announce that Ryan Dempster will be their Opening Day starter.

Dale Sveum has refused to reveal the identity of the pitcher who'll go in his first regular-season game as Cubs manager, but yet another clue is pointing toward Dempster being the guy.

When Cactus League play started, Matt Garza was actually the pitcher that was lined up for Opening Day if he took the mound every fifth day. That schedule would have included pitching in a “B” game or a minor-league game on Wednesday’s off-day.

Garza, in fact, won’t be doing that and has been listed as the starter for Thursday’s game against the Texas Rangers at Surprise. To line him back up to Opening Day he would be required to either pitch on short rest at some point or take an extended break between starts. Neither of those scenarios is expected to happen.

Sveum said earlier in the spring that length of service with the club and number of years in the major leagues will all play into who will start the opener. Dempster has an advantage over Garza in both of those categories.

Dempster started on Opening Day last season, breaking Carlos Zambrano's six-year stranglehold on the honor. Dempster has three career Opening Day starts to his credit.

On Tuesday, Dempster gave up two runs on four hits in six innings to the Rangers. He is lined up to make two more Cactus League starts -- Sunday vs. the Cleveland Indians and March 30 against the Los Angeles Dodgers -- before likely starting the April 5 season opener at Wrigley Field against the Washington Nationals.

Sveum suggested he would officially name his Opening Day starter on Friday.