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Sports

December 20, 2012

Red Sox look for innings in Dempster

BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Red Sox have the reliable starter they sought in Ryan Dempster.

He’s pitched at least 200 innings in four of the past five seasons, impressive to general manager Ben Cherington but not so special to Dempster.

“That’s your responsibility as a starting pitcher in the big leagues,” Dempster said Wednesday at a news conference after his $26.5 million, two-year deal was finalized. “The norm used to be 300 and somehow we worked it down to like 200. Even 180 seems to suffice.”

He said he works hard to stay in shape “so that I can take on that workload.”

Boston had just one starter reach the 200-mark this year, with Jon Lester pitching 205 1-3 innings.

“It’s important,” Cherington said. “Ryan’s got a history of being very effective and a really good pitcher. The consistency he’s shown in taking the ball every fifth day was important to us. I think as a team when you start having to fill in for guys, if we don’t have a reliable rotation and you start filling in with guys from down below or guys from the bullpen or whatever, it’s not so much that move but you’ve inevitably weakened another area of your team.”

Dempster gets $13.25 million a year and would earn an additional $250,000 each season for pitching 190 innings.

“We went into this offseason wanting to add a proven starter to the rotation, someone that has a history of success, reliability and someone who we thought would embrace coming to Boston and everything that comes with pitching and playing in Boston, on and off the field,” Cherington said. “We think Ryan is the perfect fit for that.”

The 35-year-old right-hander adds experience to a rotation that underachieved this year as the Red Sox went 69-93 and finished last in the AL East in their only season under manager Bobby Valentine. He was fired and replaced by John Farrell.

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