CUBS: Ryan Dempster made the successful switch from closer to starter this season, winning 17 games and helping the Chicago Cubs compile the best record in the National League.
Once the postseason rolled around, though, Dempster’s spring training prediction that the Cubs would win the World Series fell way short when Chicago was swept in the first round for the second consecutive year.
Dempster had a chance to leave as a free agent, but his desire to get the Cubs to the World Series, help them win it all for the first time since 1908 and play in a city where he and his family are so comfortable were all factors in his decision to return Tuesday.
And a $52 million, four-year contract helped convince him, too.
“I never thought sitting there negotiating over 50-something million dollars would be such a hard thing to do,” Dempster said. “Ultimately what it comes to, you have to think: What are our chances to win a world championship? I think given as close as we’ve gotten the last few, I just thought this is where I want to be.”
WHITE SOX: Pima County’s supervisors voted 5-0 on Tuesday to allow the Chicago White Sox to end their spring training contract with the county so they can move immediately to the Phoenix suburb of Glendale. The White Sox will pay the county $5 million to leave. The American League team’s contract had called for staying at Tucson Electric Park through 2012. Instead, the White Sox will share a new facility in Glendale with the Los Angeles Dodgers starting next spring. The decision makes it likely that the other two major league clubs that train in Tucson, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, also will bolt under clauses allowing them to leave if there are fewer than three teams in the area.
ORIOLES: The Baltimore Orioles signed catcher Jose Reyes to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. Reyes hasn’t played in the majors since a cup of coffee with the Chicago Cubs in 2006. He spent last year recovering from elbow surgery. Also, the Orioles added outfielder Nolan Reimold and pitchers Brad Bergesen, David Hernandez, Chorye Spoone and Wilfrido Perez to the 40-man roster, protecting them from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.
NATIONALS: Washington Nationals President Stan Kasten Tuesday sought to quell speculation regarding the team’s reported pursuit of first baseman Mark Teixeira, arguably the most coveted free agent on this winter’s market, saying any such talk “is way ahead of us here.” Kasten declined to characterize the Nationals’ interest in Teixeira, a 28-year-old product of Severna Park, Md., who split this past season between the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Angels, hitting a combined .308 with 33 homers and 121 RBI, his fifth straight 30-homer, 100-RBI season. However, Kasten Tuesday downplayed the Nationals’ chances of landing Teixeira, who is expected to attract interest from some of the game’s richest teams, including the Angels, Boston Red Sox and — possibly — New York Yankees, and who could command a contract of $150 million or more for eight or more years.
GRIFFEY NAMED ENVOY: Ken Griffey Jr. has joined a new team. The star outfielder became the newest American Public Diplomacy Envoy, introduced Tuesday by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Griffey is set to make his first baseball-related trip for the State Department to Panama in January. In his role, he’ll represent the “values of the United States, not the government of the United States,” Rice said.
RIPKEN EVENT CANCELLED: Cal Ripken Jr.’s baseball clinic for Nicaraguan youth was canceled by its sponsors Tuesday because protests surrounding local election results were hindering travel. Ripken and his former Baltimore Orioles teammate Dennis Martinez, a Nicaraguan native, provided instruction to 300 children and 60 youth coaches in Managua and Granada since last week. They were scheduled to give their final clinic in Leon. But the program sponsors canceled the last day of the tour because protesters were blocking major roads in Leon and they were concerned parents and the youths would not be able to attend, U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Kristin Stewart said.
Herald news services