FORT MYERS, Fla. -- There are starting pitchers out there who avoid the American League like the plague, knowing that it is a far more offensive-minded institution. But Ryan Dempster, who signed with the Red Sox as a free agent this winter, is the type of competitor who looks at such a challenge and says, "Bring it on."
Aside from his two-month rental with the Rangers last summer after a trade from the Cubs, Dempster has spent his entire career in the National League.
"Anyone who says it's no different, believe me, it is different," Dempster said. "You're not facing a pitcher. You're facing a David Ortiz. You're facing a Mark Teixeira. You have somebody plugged in to that spot who is a bona-fide middle-of-the-order hitter.
"You know it does change, but at the same time, your goal as a pitcher is to just execute as many quality pitches as possible. If you throw 100 pitches in a game, and you execute 90 of those pitches, you're going to have success.
"The less pitches you execute, no matter who you're facing, you're not going to have as much success. I think that comes down to preparing, practicing to do it and then maintaining your focus -- never letting up. I think that's the most important thing, is it's kind of a fun and exciting challenge."
Manager John Farrell noted that Dempster's numbers with the Rangers last season (7-3, 5.09 ERA) were a little misleading.
"After the first five starts he had with Texas, if you look at the last seven, he pitched pretty darn well," Farrell said. "You don't have that nine-hole hitter to have a little bit of a breather [in the AL]. It's apparent he made that adjustment successfully in those last seven starts. He's been every effective against left-handed hitters. This is someone that has been successful and he's been healthy, and we're expecting upwards of 180 to 200 innings out of him."