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"He's still got five or six good years in him," the GM added. "You win a lot of baseball games with this guy on your ballclub."
But Dempster struggled in the playoff opener against the Dodgers, throwing 109 pitches in 4 2-3 innings. He gave up four runs and four hits while matching a career high with seven walks. He also allowed a grand slam to James Loney in the Cubs' 7-2 loss.
Now, Dempster will get another chance to help the Cubs end their long drought.
"Maybe we underestimated how prepared you have to be and how ready you have to be, especially in a five-game series. It's like a short heavyweight bout -- ding, ding the bell is ringing and you got to go," Dempster said.
"We were so good at home and I was so good at home, it almost felt like it was just going to be a given that we would win Games 1 and 2 and move on and go from there. You've still got to play the games. ... It felt embarrassing to go out there for a second year in row and to lose three straight games for whatever reason. We have to figure out what it is that is not getting done and have to get better about it."
It's the Cubs' second major move in less than a week. Last Thursday, they traded for Florida reliever Kevin Gregg and said goodbye to free agent Kerry Wood, a good friend of Dempster's.
Hendry said the Cubs couldn't give Wood the long-term deal he deserved because they had more important priorities. And one of those top priorities was re-signing Dempster. Chicago also has explored acquiring San Diego ace Jake Peavy.
"I wouldn't necessarily rule out anything," Hendry said without being specific. He said the Cubs would not hesitate to bring on more pitching if the situation was right, while still hoping to add a left-handed bat.
Hendry, who got a contract extension through 2012 in October, said he expected the team's payroll to increase slightly this season. He said he'd encountered no financial restrictions, even with the team up for sale by Tribune Co.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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