Lou changes mind, keeps Dempster in Cubs' bullpen

Updated: May 21, 2007, 10:50 AM ET
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Ryan Dempster was all set to go from closer to starter. The switch was a short one.

Ryan Dempster

Dempster

Relief Pitcher
Chicago Cubs

Profile

2007 Season Stats
GM W L BB K ERA
18 1 2 8 21 4.43

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," Dempster said.

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 closer.

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.

Ryan Dempster

"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 do."

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.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press