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Sports

Ryan Dempster excited about Red Sox bullpen

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Those who know him well say new Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster is a funny guy. He showed a little of that when asked about the Red Sox hitters on Monday.

“I want a chance to face Will Middlebrooks again. He took me deep last year. I want a chance to face him again, maybe in [live] BP. I’ll throw one behind his ear or something,” Dempster said. “But I won’t hit him. He’s my teammate now.”

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The 35-year-old righthander also offered an amusing scouting report on new closer Joel Hanrahan.

“He throws cheese and he’s got a nasty slider and a big, huge, bushy goatee that I think the hitters get intimidated by,” Dempster said. “I know from the other side, playing against him the last few years, when he’s coming in the game it’s pretty much lights out. That’s a great feeling to have as a team, as a pitcher, when you’re sitting there watching your closer come in and save the game for you. That’s a really, really nice feeling. The whole back end of our bullpen is pretty remarkable right now.”

Beyond that, Dempster expressed enthusiasm for starting the season and helping a new team.

“I like to provide consistency. That’s something over the course of my career I take the biggest pride in,” he said. “I try and take the ball every fifth day as long as I can and go out there and give my best effort and be prepared.”

Dempster received a two-year deal worth $26.5 million. He said the Sox also attracted him because of the changes they were making. The turmoil that has defined the franchise in recent years did not dissuade him.

“Not at all. I’m a huge believer in no matter what happens, whether you win a World Series or finish in last place in the league, that’s last year and it’s over with,” he said. “You just come in and just do the best you can this year. We’ve got a different look, different players [and] a different staff. With that comes a new opportunity to go out there and just focus on having a good year this year.”

Dempster said that after spending nine seasons with the Cubs, he’s used to playing in a large market with passionate fans and a lot of media coverage.”

“It’s part of the appeal,” he said.

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