While most of the pitching focus this spring has been on the health of Rich Harden and the battle for the 5th starting spot, a decision regarding the opening day starter could come soon.
The 2 candidates are Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster.
Zambrano is scheduled to pitch in an exhibition game against Team Japan on Thursday. Zambrano has started the last 4 opening day games for the Cubs. In 2008, Zambrano was 14-6 with a 3.91 ERA and he threw his 1st career no-hitter against the Houston Astros.
Dempster pitched 3 scoreless innings and earned the victory in the Cubs 9-1 win over the Mariners on Tuesday. In 2008, Dempster won a career-high 17 games, finishing the season with a 17-6 record and a 2.96 ERA. Manager Lou Pinella also started Dempster in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Dempster had this to say about Pinella’s decision: “I don’t care. He can pitch me 5th. Anytime you pitch Opening Day it’s a tremendous honor, but I just want to pitch games, and my feelings aren’t hurt one way or another. I just want to go out and pitch every 5th day and get us in a position to try to go back to where we were last year. It doesn’t matter to me at all.” Dempster also joked that he and Zambrano don’t even talk about it to each other because they both want it so bad, and that he really likes pitching in the middle relief role.
Ah fun spring training antics. Pinella indicated that he could make his announcement as early as the end of this week. We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything.