Nieve, who was assigned to the Minor League camp on March 24, was making his first spring start. He exited after giving up four hits and one walk over four innings while striking out two.The Cubs are not preseason favorites to win the National League Central. That's OK, according to Dempster. "We have a plan of what we want to do," Dempster said. "We'll go out and play the game the right way and play hard and let our talent take over. We've put in all this hard work the past six weeks and hopefully it turns into results on the field. "Hard work and playing the game at a high intensity can make up for lack of talent a lot of times. I know it has for me. I don't have much talent, but I try to work hard and play the game the right way. Sometimes it becomes contagious and a way to get the best out of each other." Cubs manager Dale Sveum has set the tone. "He's a great communicator," Dempster said. "He's kept camp very loose but at the same time, asked us to work hard, and I think we've done that. He's given us respect and treated us like men, and we've respected him back and put a lot of hard work in. He's been a lot of fun to be around and you learn a lot. He's always talking the game, always trying to figure out scenarios and what he can do best to help us win, and we're looking forward to the start of the regular season and go out there and win some games." How does Sveum compare to some of Dempster's previous managers? "He's got more tattoos than most of the managers I know," Dempster said. "I can't see Lou [Piniella] riding onto the field on a Harley." Up next, Dodgers: Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw will make his final tuneup for Opening Day when he faces the Arizona Diamondbacks and Ian Kennedy at Salt River Fields on Saturday at 1:10 p.m. PT. It will be Kershaw's fifth start this spring, all on the road. Likely relievers include Javy Guerra and Jamey Wright.
Up next, Cubs: Paul Maholm will make his fourth Cactus League start on Saturday when the Cubs play host to the Angels at HoHoKam Park at 3:05 p.m. CT. Maholm, who will be the fifth starter in the rotation, has struck out 10 over 10 innings this spring. He's given up one earned run on eight hits. The game will be broadcast on Comcast Sports Net and also WGN Radio.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.