Sports

Ryan Dempster says he’s ready to face AL East

The Red Sox introduced starting pitcher Ryan Dempster Wednesday afternoon at Fenway Park, and the pitcher quickly did his best to dispel the notion that he would have trouble adjusting to the American League.

“I’m very aware that the AL East is a tough division,” said Dempster. “If you go out there and make the pitches and execute, it won’t matter who you’re pitching against or where you’re pitching.”

The Sox reached a two-year, $26.5 million deal with Dempster last Thursday. The team officially announced the deal Wednesday afternoon, and much like the team’s introduction of outfielder Shane Victorino last week, Dempster’s introduction focused on what the veteran pitcher can do both on the field and off it.

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“We’re excited to add a guy of this caliber to our rotation and to our clubhouse,” said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington.

Dempster is projected to be a starter in the back end of Boston’s 2013 rotation. He has made at least 28 starts and has won at least 10 games in each of the last five seasons. He made 16 starts for the Chicago Cubs last season, posting a 2.25 ERA before being acquired by the Texas Rangers at the July 31 trade deadline. At the time, Dempster ranked second in the National League in ERA. Following the trade, Dempster made 12 starts for the Rangers and posted a 7-3 record with a 5.09 ERA.

Dempster said Wednesday it’s a goal of his every season to throw 200 or more innings. He said another goal of his is taking the Red Sox back to the World Series.

“That’s why we play,” said Dempster. “The money and things like that in baseball are great, but I came here because I believe this team has a chance of winning as much as anybody else. I’ve always believed that should be your mentality going into any season.

“Every team’s going to win 50 games. Every team’s going to lose 50 games. It’s what you do with the other 62 that matter.”

The Red Sox finished in last place in the AL East last season, but Dempster praised the additions of Victorino, Koji Uehara, Jonny Gomes, and Mike Napoli (Napoli has not yet signed) as good for both the clubhouse and on-field product. On Napoli, Dempster said, “He’s one of the best teammates I had in my time in Texas.”

Dempster spent the first 14 1/2 seasons of his career in the National League and owns a career record of 124-124.

To make room for Dempster on the 40-man roster, righthanded pitcher Pedro Beato was designated for assignment.

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