Dempster begins spring with extended outing

Dempster begins spring with extended outing

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In the last week of the 2010 regular season, the Cubs took three out of four games from the Padres, who just missed making the playoffs. The moral? All 162 games count.

"I'm still waiting for wine and some other stuff that was promised for putting together that kind of series," Cubs manager Mike Quade said, jokingly.

Ryan Dempster also expected a bottle of champagne. He won one of those games on Sept. 28.

"Everybody talks about that game in September, but [the Giants] won by one game, and it shows you how important every single game is," Dempster said.

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Dempster will kick off the Cubs' regular season on April 1 against the Pirates at Wrigley Field, but on Tuesday, he made his first Cactus League start against the defending World Series champion Giants. Dempster didn't get the win, but Quade did, his first in three Cactus League games, as the Cubs held on for a 3-2 victory.

Carlos Zambrano and Randy Wells, who started the Cubs' first two games, each went two innings. Dempster went three, and gave up one run on two hits and one walk.

"They asked me if I wanted to go another one, and I said, 'Why not?'" Dempster said. "I had a pretty quick first inning. I'm not sure I threw a lot of pitches, but it felt good. It's nice to get extended like that."

He retired the first three batters, but Buster Posey singled to lead off the Giants' second. Two outs later, Pablo Sandoval doubled to drive in Posey and Aaron Rowand reached on a throwing error by shortstop Starlin Castro. Dempster struck out Tim Lincecum to end the inning.

Dempster had to deal with runners on base again in the third when Freddy Sanchez was safe on an error by second baseman Blake DeWitt. Second baseman Bobby Scales made another error in the ninth. The Cubs have committed nine miscues in three spring games.

"Quade's going to start cutting off fingers, he said, one at a time," Dempster said. "Every error is a finger cut off, so you better start making plays or you're not going to have a glove hand."

Dempster was joking. We think.

Dempster did make a nice defensive play himself in the third. The Giants had runners at first and third and Posey hit a comebacker to Dempster, who threw to third baseman Aramis Ramirez for the force. That's part of pitching coach Mark Riggins' emphasis on being prepared. Instead of having pitchers waste time shagging during batting practice, he'll have them go on a back field and work on their hitting or pickoff moves.

That attention to detail could pay off. The Giants won the World Series with pitching and defense.

"Any team sees those guys as motivation, that you don't have to be picked on somebody's preseason board to be the World Series champs," Dempster said. "That's a great thing and that means you have a lot of talent but it's about being a good team, coming together and working hard."

Quade pointed out how the Philadelphia Flyers had to scramble last season to get into the Stanley Cup playoffs and how the Green Bay Packers made it to the Super Bowl despite being the sixth seed. The Cubs just have to get into what Quade calls "the tournament."

"There's plenty of reasons to look around and say, 'Why not us?'" he said.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.