<
>

Dempster's outing Cubs' latest strong start

PHOENIX -- If solid pitching is what the Cubs had hoped for this spring, that’s exactly what they are getting after one week of Cactus League play.

Ryan Dempster was the latest Cubs starter to look impressive early, with three scoreless innings, while giving up two hits with two walks in an eventual 6-1 victory Saturday over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Over the first seven Cactus League games, Cubs starting pitchers have posted a combined 2.08 ERA. Of course, the starters have only thrown a combined 17 1/3 innings.

After Dempster’s scoreless outing Saturday, he even went to the bullpen to do a little more work.

“Just extending myself,” said the right-hander, who is expected to get the Opening Day starting nod against the Washington Nationals. “I face these guys a lot during the year and there’s no point in going out there and throwing a whole bunch to them. It was a good day with good work and it’s just trying to build up innings.”

The veteran Dempster has been around a while and isn’t too concerned with what the numbers say, but instead takes a different focus during the spring.

“Results of where I throw the pitch [matter],” Dempster said. “That’s what I’m trying to do is to execute pitches. As the spring goes on you hope you’re just executing more and more of them. I feel good about it now but we still have a little ways to go before the season starts and we’re just trying to get as ready as possible.”

Next in line to make preparations for the season is Matt Garza, who will start Sunday against the Dodgers. He will face off against former Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly.