Cubs tap Ryan Dempster for opener

Updated: March 23, 2012, 3:46 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

MESA, Ariz -- Veteran right-hander Ryan Dempster will make his second straight Opening Day start for the Chicago Cubs, facing the Washington Nationals and Stephen Strasburg at Wrigley Field on April 5.

Dempster, 10-14 with a 4.80 ERA last season in 34 starts, got the nod Friday from manager Dale Sveum over Matt Garza.

"I am sure he is very thankful and excited to get it because it is very important to starting pitchers and Garza will have many more of these opportunities," Sveum said.

In the season opener a year ago, Dempster was the losing pitcher against the Pittsburgh Pirates, giving up six runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings.

"It's a great honor," Dempster said. "I hope I can go out there and win the game, but if it would have been (Garza) he is totally deserving of it, too.

"Him and I pull for each other. We are always looking to get the best out of each other. He was happy for me and if it was the other way I would have been happy for him."

Sveum said left-hander Paul Maholm, signed in the offseason as a free agent, will be the Cubs's fifth starter with the third and fourth spots to be decided on Wednesday.

Information from ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine was used in this report.

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