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Dempster bats and throws right-handed. He has a win-loss record of 73-80 and an earned run average of 4.60 in 413 games (188 starts) as of August 18, 2008. He has played for the Florida Marlins (1998-2002), the Cincinnati Reds (2002-2003), and the Chicago Cubs (2004-present). In August 2003 he underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and made a miraculous recovery from the surgery, taking a little under a year to recover from it, coming back in the last half of 2004 to pitch for the Chicago Cubs. In 2005, after starting 6 games, Dempster was named the closer for the Chicago Cubs, replacing LaTroy Hawkins.
He collected 33 saves in 35 opportunities, the best save percentage in the league; in both blown saves, he collected the win. He is the only Cub and one of just three players ever to start a game and collect 30 saves in a single season. On October 1, 2005, the Cubs signed him through 2008 in a US$15.5 million contract extension. He emerged as one of the team's most consistent relievers in 2007. At one point, Lou Pinella, the Cubs' manager, was considering promoting Dempster to a starting pitcher. However, the idea was short lived, as a struggling bullpen forced Dempster to remain as closer. He recorded sixteen saves in eighteen opportunities before missing two weeks of playtime on account of an injured oblique muscle.
During 2008 spring training, Dempster's performance earned him a promotion to the third spot on the starting rotation, with the closer job going to Kerry Wood. On April 3, 2008, he earned his first win as a home starter since a 2002 win with the Marlins against the Cubs. On May 15, 2008, Dempster recorded a career high 12 strikeouts in a game. He pitched 8 1/3rd innings, and gave up only 6 hits. On July 8, 2008 he became the first Cubs pitcher in 31 seasons to start 10-0 at home. Dempster finished the season with 17-6 record, with 2.96 ERA and 183 strikeouts in 201 and 2/3 innings.
Dempster opened the Cubs 2008 post-season campaign against the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 26, 2008.. Dempster accumulated a high pitch count early and, after he was unable to get outs with 0-2 counts twice, he surrendered a grand slam to James Loney and was pulled in favor of Sean Marshall.
Dempster is widely known for his laid-back attitude, constantly joking with fans and teammates and is said to be a positive contribution to a team's clubhouse. Dempster's fun and easy-going personality was especially evident when in comments to an Arizona newspaper in March 2007, Dempster stated that if his career as a closer began to tumble, he would pursue ninja training.
When asked what would happen if the Cubs won the World Series, Dempster jokingly commented,"I'd say the top of the Budweiser building blows off. People storm the field. Huge chunks of ivy are ripped off the walls. Police cars are turned over on Addison, on Waveland, on Sheffield, and you can't walk within a 45-block radius of Wrigley Field because people will be drinking there for seven to 10 days. What a great feeling." He is also known for his Harry Caray impression. Most notably, he announced the Cubs' starting lineup while speaking like Caray before a nationally televised baseball game on Fox Sports.
Awards and honorsEdit
- National League All-Star (2000) (2008)
- Named one of the 99 "Good Guys" in professional sports by The Sporting News.
- Tip O'Neill Award (2000)
- Played in the NHL All-Star Celebrity Challenge on January 30, 2002.
current as of October 1, 2008.