CHICAGO -- Ryan Dempster was all set to go from closer to
starter. The switch was a short one.
After telling reporters Sunday how excited he was to join the
Cubs' rotation, he was called in for a meeting with manager Lou
Piniella. About 30 minutes later, Dempster returned to his locker
with fresher news -- now he was staying in the bullpen.
"It's not like I went and started. Obviously, it seems weird,"
Piniella had approached Dempster last week after the reliever
gave up five runs in the ninth inning in a 6-5 loss to the Mets and
asked him if he'd like to be a starter again.
With Florida and Cincinnati from 1998-2003, Dempster was
primarily a starter and was in the Cubs rotation for six games in
2005 before making the switch to the bullpen and becoming the
He saved 33 games that season in 35 chances and was 24-of-33 a
year ago. He is 9-for-10 this season.
His initial conversation with Piniella went like this:
It's not like I went and started. Obviously, it seems weird.
"He said, 'You want to start?' I said, 'Yeah.' So he said,
'I'll put you in the rotation,'" Dempster said before he was
called into Piniella's office after Sunday's loss to the White Sox.
Dempster figured he'd throw a simulated game and then gradually
build up his arm strength up so he could deliver more pitches and
work more innings. And he was going to stay in the rotation.
"Everybody's angle is that if we're doing this, it's going to
be a permanent thing. I'm not going to go start three or four games
then go back and start closing again," he said.
He never got the chance.
The Cubs apparently want Dempster's experience as a reliever
since they have young pitchers like Angel Guzman in the bullpen.
"The nice part is Lou told me you will start again, so I have
that," Dempster said. "That's fine with me, as long as I know
that. If it's sometime this season, if it's next year, if it's the
year after that, I don't know," he said.
"I'm just going to go out there and do what they ask me to
Piniella wasn't available after Dempster's plans were changed
again. But he said earlier making Dempster a starter had been
discussed and so had all the ramifications that went with it.