3/10 Dempster: 'Any time you struggle, it's tough'
Ryan Dempster said he did not see the ESPN interview with former teammate Milton Bradley, in which the outfielder talked about the difficult time he had in Chicago. Bradley mentioned he received a lot of hate mail. Has Dempster ever gotten any?
“Kevin Millar has been giving me hate mail,” Dempster said, tongue in cheek. “He usually puts a postage stamp on it and then hands it to me. He’s going to get some bad stuff back. After all, he took me deep the other day on the backfield and I’m not too happy about that.”
The Cubs have moved on after last season, which was Bradley’s first with the team. Wednesday was the second day of auditions for the team’s version of American Idol.
“We’re having a blast,” Dempster said. “Everybody’s focused on this year and going out there and getting ready for the 2010 championship season. We’re excited about it.”
Asked again about the Bradley interview, Dempster said: “I didn’t see it — what was it, bad coffee in Seattle?”
The attitude in Cubs camp is that they’ve moved on since Bradley left.
“I try to forget the last pitch I threw,” Dempster said. “We can’t control the past and tomorrow might not come. You just live in the present and enjoy the present and how wonderful it is that we get to play baseball for a living in such a great city like Chicago with the best fans in the world in such a great organization like this. I’m glad I’m here with the Cubs and having a great time with a great bunch of guys and looking forward to this season.”
Dempster heard the boos when he was the Cubs closer. How does he handle angry fans?
“Play as hard as I can,” he said. “I think if you give 100 percent and prepare as hard as you can and take pride in what you do, that seems to work no matter where you’re playing or who you are. I care a lot about winning and doing things the right way. I don’t always do things the right way and I’m not perfect. They’re fans, and they pay the ticket to come in and have every right to boo if they feel you’re not giving 100 percent or your best effort.
“At the same time, I’ve always said about Chicago is they love their Cubs and they’re very forgiving people,” he said. “They want you to do well, because if you’re doing well, their team is doing well.”
LaTroy Hawkins and Jacque Jones also had a tough time while playing for the Cubs. Is it more difficult for African-American players there?
“I don’t know. I’m Caucasian,” Dempster said. “[Derrek Lee] seems to really like it there. He’s really enjoyed Chicago and loves playing there. Some other guys I’ve played with have really had a good time playing there. I know Marlon [Byrd] is going to have a blast playing there. I think any time you struggle, it can be tough, no matter what color your skin is.”
– Carrie Muskat