Cubs ace Dempster's trade stock keeps rising
BY TONI GINNETTi Sun-Times Media June 15, 2012 10:56PM
Denis Savard warms up before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Wrigley Field Friday, June 15, 2012, in Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times
Updated: August 23, 2012 9:53AM
CHICAGO — Ryan Dempster keeps pushing away thoughts about his days with the Cubs nearing an end.
Even as team president Theo Epstein acknowledged Friday that the pace of trade inquiries “is starting to pick up,’’ Dempster tried to bring the conversation back to the day’s 3-0 victory over the Red Sox. He talked of how well his teammates played during his seven innings of shutout ball — and especially how he won his bet with speedster Tony Campana over which one would get the first triple.
“I won. Imagine that,’’ Dempster said with a smile.
That “win” came in the second inning, when Dempster poked a fly into right field that eluded Adrian Gonzalez, leading to the last of the only runs scored all day.
The first two came in the first inning with the help of three walks from Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-2), giving Dempster (3-3) all he would need. Dempster — who was the team closer the last time the Red Sox visited in 2005 — also had a single in his next at-bat.
But it was his continuing excellence on the mound — extending his scoreless inning streak to 22 straight — that is accelerating the coming conclusion to his Cubs tenure.
“I don’t know how that even happens,” he said of scoreless inning streaks. “It’s inevitable you miss a pitch and someone hits it into the stands, or a guy is at second and all you think about is preserving the win.’’
But while he has been in command on the mound, he knows all he can control about his future is giving the OK for his departure.
“I’m not naïve or oblivious to what’s going on,” he said of the July 31 trade deadline. “But if I focused on that, I wouldn’t be a very good teammate to those guys in there and I wouldn’t be very good to myself.”
``Everyone knows I love it here. I’ve played here a long time. I’ve always said I wanted to finish my career here. This is the best place to play.’’
In winning his third straight, Dempster lowered his ERA to 2.11.
``He’s one of the most professional, hardworking people you’ll ever be around,’’ manager Dale Sveum said. ``When he steps on the mound, it’s all business, not trade rumors. It’s `how am I going to get this guy out.’ ‘’
There is no way to tell if Friday’s start might have been his last in Wrigley Field, even though the deadline is more than six weeks away.
``I still think most of the calls are preliminary in nature, kind of feeling-out calls of `what are you looking for? What are you trying to do? Who might be available?’ That kind of thing,’’ Epstein said. ``Late July is when most of this stuff happens, but you always find a couple of teams that will press the issue. More teams are in contention [because of the added wild card], fewer teams completely out of it.’’
The Cubs are out of it, which is why Dempster could be playing in October somewhere else.
``Whatever it ends up being, I’ll continue to do what I do,’’ he said. ``I don’t know what tomorrow holds, so just enjoy today’s win.’’