Dempster looks like only starter who will face Sox twice

Published: 6/14/2008 12:11 AM

TORONTO -- Cubs manager Lou Piniella has reworked his pitching rotation again.

If things stay the way Piniella has it now, Ryan Dempster will be the only starting pitcher to face the White Sox twice in the upcoming back-to-back weekend series.

Dempster will open Tuesday's series at Tampa Bay, followed by Carlos Zambrano and Sean Gallagher.

Against the Sox next weekend at Wrigley Field, the Cubs will go with Ted Lilly, Jason Marquis and Dempster.

The Baltimore Orioles come to town after that, and the Cubs likely will go with Zambrano, Lilly and Marquis. When the Cubs-Sox series shifts to the South Side the following weekend, it looks like a starting three of Dempster, Gallagher and Zambrano.

Marquis starts today against the Blue Jays, and he will get six days between today's start and his start against the Sox. The talk originally had been of starting Zambrano twice against the Sox.

Tough trip: Despite the sentimentality in some circles surrounding the Hall of Fame exhibition game, the Cubs are none too thrilled about having to use their off-day Monday to play the San Diego Padres.

Instead of leaving Toronto on Sunday night, as they normally would, the Cubs will wait until Monday morning, fly to Albany, N.Y., bus to Cooperstown, bus back to Albany and fly to Tampa Bay, where they play the tough Rays beginning Tuesday.

"It's something that we really didn't need," Lou Piniella said. "But we're going to bring up about 15 kids (minor-leaguers), and they're going to play.

"It's a tough little trip. We're going to stay overnight in Toronto Sunday, leave the hotel at 7:30 in the morning, fly to Albany and then take about an hour-20, 25-minute bus ride to Cooperstown. Invariably, we won't get to the Tampa-St. Petersburg area until 10 o'clock-10:30 that night.

"It's something we didn't need, but what are you going to do about it? We didn't ask for it."

Cotts OK: Lefty Neal Cotts brought an aggressive approach with him from Class AAA Iowa when he was called up May 29, and it has paid off so far with 8 scoreless relief appearances.

"It's the same stuff, getting ahead of hitters and little things I struggled with last year," he said. "I think it's a totally different game when you're ahead of the hitters.

"When you're ahead, you have a lot more options and ways to get them out. Last year, it seemed like I didn't do that. It was always an uphill battle. Sometimes you get lucky doing that. More times, you don't succeed."

Lou Piniella has noticed.

"He's aggressive," Piniella said. "He's throwing the ball well. He's pitching with confidence. He's throwing strikes. He's got good stuff.

"He's been a big help here. It's allowed me to free Scotty Eyre and use him more. One of the reasons that our bullpen's functioning well is the fact both our left-handers are doing good, productive work for us."