Cubs

No matter what, Dempster wants to finish strong

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No matter what, Dempster wants to finish strong

Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011
Posted: 10:32 p.m.

By PatrickMooney
CSNChicago.com CubsInsider Follow@CSNMooney
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CTL: Why does Quade play veterans over younger guys

CINCINNATI Clubhouses around baseball are filled by impressionable kids, September call-ups who are getting a taste and dont know if theyll ever be back.

Ryan Dempster holds a 14 million player option for next season.

Dempster has all this leverage, but isnt looking forward to vacation. The Cubs extended him to 128 pitches on Tuesday night, two away from his career high and the most hes thrown since 2001.

All Dempster had to show for it afterward was another hard-luck loss, this time 2-1 to the Reds in front of a mostly empty Great American Ball Park. Others are definitely watching. All the young pitchers look up to Dempster and try to follow the example he sets.

Thats always important, crossing the finish line, Dempster said. Getting through times like back in 01 probably helped me (later on). Its probably not the healthiest thing to go out there and throw 120-plus pitches every start.

But to do it once in awhile especially toward the end of the season when youre still strong and you feel good (is) important.

Given that veteran status, the Cubs (65-83) will likely reconfigure their rotation down the stretch so that Dempster will get three more starts and the chance to reach 200 innings for the fourth consecutive season. Hes at 183.2 after going seven innings and giving up two runs to the Reds (72-76).

Dempster, an affable, down-to-earth personality, can be seen walking the streets of Lakeview with his son. Major League Baseball recognized his charitable work on Tuesday by announcing that he was the Cubs nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award.

But behind all that, there is a deeply competitive side. Everyone saw that on July 9 in Pittsburgh, when Dempster got into a shouting match with Mike Quade in the dugout after the manager pulled him for a pinch-hitter after five innings.

This time Quade let Dempster bat in the seventh, even though nine times out of 10 the manager would call on a pinch-hitter. With a runner on third, Quade also allowed Dempster to finish the inning and strike out Jay Bruce.

That was out of respect for him, Quade said.

Theres no doubt that Dempsters numbers are down this season 10-12 with a 4.66 ERA. But in a year where the Cubs have had no idea what theyll get from one start to the next, hes been a consistent rotation piece. Theyll need more of those in 2012.

After a brutal April 9.58 ERA in six starts Dempsters showing that he still has something left.

Im just glad that I bounced back after such a terrible first month of the season, Dempster said. Im just trying to finish as strong as possible. A good year for me would have been us playing a lot better.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Kris Bryant is ready for fatherhood '[I was] put on this earth to be a dad'

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USA TODAY

Kris Bryant is ready for fatherhood '[I was] put on this earth to be a dad'

Suffice to say Kris Bryant is budding with anticipation for becoming a father.

Bryant and his wife, Jessica, are expecting their first child — a baby boy due in April. During Friday night’s Cubs-Padres broadcast, the third baseman shared his excitement for fatherhood with reporter Taylor McGregor

“I think this is really what I’ve been put on this Earth to do, is be a dad,” Bryant said, laughing. “Obviously I play baseball pretty good, but I’m just so excited [for] this new journey with my wife and my family. Honestly, I think this is going to be one of the best years of my life.”

Bryant’s son is due shortly after Opening Day, but the Cubs will play two spring training games in Las Vegas — Bryant’s hometown — on March 7-8. He told McGregor one of Jessica’s last doctor’s appointments is around the same time, so Bryant will get one last visit in before Baby Bryant is born.

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How Dusty Baker inspired former Cub Adam Greenberg after scary head injury

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AP

How Dusty Baker inspired former Cub Adam Greenberg after scary head injury

Adam Greenberg’s baseball career was cut short by a scary head injury 15 years ago. But with the help of Dusty Baker, he found the motivation to transition to his post-baseball life.

Greenberg made his MLB debut with the Cubs on July 9, 2005, and Baker called upon the then 24-year-old to pinch-hit in the ninth inning against the Marlins. On the first pitch Greenberg saw in the big leagues, Marlins reliever Valerio De Los Santos hit him in the back of the head with a 92-mph fastball.

Greenberg was concussed from the incident, suffered from vertigo and vision problems, and battled depression. The Cubs released him in 2006 and he caught on with the Royals and later the Dodgers in 2007 — which is when Baker reappears in the story. From MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart:

A couple of years following the incident, in 2007, Baker got a letter from a fan requesting a baseball card be signed. In the letter, the person told Baker that Greenberg had been released by the Royals and his baseball career was in jeopardy. Baker tracked down Greenberg and left him the voice mail that served as his motivation for a post-baseball life.

“It was so genuine and from the heart,” Greenberg said. “It put me in tears the first time, but it was the motivation and inspiration I needed to get up and keep going. And since then, he’s been somebody that’s been near and dear to me."

It's unfortunate Greenberg couldn’t experience a long big-league career, but Baker inspired him and helped him move forward post-baseball. According to McTaggart, Greenberg started a nutrition company and sold it 10 years later. He also ran for state senate in Connecticut in 2019 and is currently a baseball analyst for the ACC Network.

Greenberg’s career effectively ended moments after it began, but 2005 wasn’t the last time he stepped in a big-league batters’ box. In 2012, fans started an online petition to get him one last at-bat — and his career came full circle. The Marlins signed him to a one-day contract on Oct. 2, 2012, and he pinch-hit that same day against the Mets.

Greenberg struck out on three pitches, but Baker’s voicemail left a mark on his life. Seeing him enjoy success outside of baseball is as heartwarming as it gets.