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

By PatrickMooney
CSNChicago.com CubsInsider Follow@CSNMooney
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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.