MESA, Ariz. -- Ryan Dempster could have brushed aside his struggles in a minor-league game Sunday, but he owned up to them, saying his execution should have been better.
The Chicago Cubs starter got in his second-to-last spring outing against Single-A competition, which is always an awkward affair. A classic pitching approach can be thrown out the window because the young hitters are usually free swingers.
Dempster was tagged to the tune of six runs and eight hits in five innings. He did get past the 80-pitch plateau, though, before throwing as many as 30 more pitches in the bullpen following his outing.
“It was probably a lack of executing some pitches,” Dempster said when asked if aggressive hitters jumped him early in counts. “They’re up there swinging, yeah, but I could have made some better pitches. I was trying to accomplish a few things, which I did and was really good, which was the most important thing about yesterday.”
Dempster has already been announced as the Cubs’ Opening Day starter on April 5 at Wrigley Field against the Washington Nationals. He is scheduled to have one more Cactus League start, likely Friday against the Dodgers, where he will back off a bit and throw somewhere between 65 and 70 pitches.
Manager Dale Sveum said he wasn’t worried about the outing.
“It’s one of those things where a lot of times it’s usually one or the other, you either pitch really well or it doesn’t go too well with guys like that,” Sveum said. “You’re trying to throw strikes and A-ball hitters are swinging at every pitch you throw up there.”
Sveum said the only thing that mattered to him was that Dempster has now reached a pitch count where he is completely built up for the season.
It might not have been the result Dempster was looking for, but at least he had a sense of humor about it.
“I was working on a few things: Trying to see how many triples I could give up, how many base hits I could give up,” he said.