Commentary

Dempster's start helps family situation

Cubs put priorities in order

Originally Published: June 17, 2009
By Wayne Drehs | ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- Not only did Tuesday night's postponement between the Cubs and White Sox likely set up a September showdown between the two clubs, but it also allowed Cubs manager Lou Piniella to juggle his rotation to benefit pitcher Ryan Dempster.

Dempster revealed earlier this month that his 2-month-old daughter Riley has a rare form of DiGeorge Syndrome, which in her specific case has resulted in the disruption of her natural swallowing reflex because of the absence of a chromosome.

With Dempster set to start Wednesday against the White Sox, the right-hander will be in line to pitch Monday's makeup game in Atlanta, after which he will be able to fly back to Chicago and be with his family while the rest of the team heads to Detroit.

Doctors discovered the problem with Dempster's daughter during his wife Jenny's pregnancy. Born prematurely, Riley already has undergone several surgeries and procedures, including the insertion of a tracheotomy tube to help feed her. She requires round-the-clock monitoring.

After winning 17 games for the Cubs in 2008, Dempster struggled in April of this year, going 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA. But entering Wednesday's start against the White Sox, he had allowed just one earned run in his previous 20 innings.

With Dempster starting Wednesday, Piniella said Tuesday night's scheduled starter, Carlos Zambrano, will go Thursday against the Sox, with Rich Harden pitching Friday, Ted Lilly on Saturday and rookie Randy Wells on Sunday.

Though a makeup date has not officially been announced for Tuesday night's rainout, both teams share an off day and will be in Chicago on Sept. 3, making that afternoon the most likely option.

Wayne Drehs is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at wayne.drehs@Espn3.com. Follow Wayne on Twitter @ESPNWayneDrehs.

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