MESA, Ariz. Ryan Dempster will get the ball on Opening Day at Wrigley Field against Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals.
Manager Dale Sveum announced the decision on Friday, rewarding the incumbent who got the assignment last year and is widely-respected in the clubhouse and the community. There is a certain symbolism to who starts on April 5.
Opening Day means a lot to everyone, Sveum said. It does set a tone. I think its very important to come out and play a really sound game because going in you know its No. 1 vs. No. 1 and it could possibly be a 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 ballgame.
Dempster who will turn 35 in May has looked sharp this spring. Matt Garza who repeatedly said that it didnt matter if he started on Opening Day will pitch the second game of the season.
This will be Dempsters fourth career Opening Day start, and second with the Cubs. He finished last April with a 9.58 ERA through six starts, but rebounded to finish with double-digit wins (10) and reach 200 innings for the fourth consecutive season.
Ryan Dempster obviously had a little hiccup last year, but his hiccup was mainly the first four weeks of the season, Sveum said. Other than that, he pitched really well, but (didnt have very good defense) behind him. It kind of came down to that, probably as much as anything, and the way hes throwing the ball this spring (made) the final decision.