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updated: 4/5/2012 7:18 PM

LaHair anxious to return to action

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  • Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster only gave up 2 hits Thursday and struck out 10 but Washington rallied for a 2-1 victory on Opening Day at Wrigley Field.

      Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster only gave up 2 hits Thursday and struck out 10 but Washington rallied for a 2-1 victory on Opening Day at Wrigley Field.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer


Bryan LaHair so wanted to play on Opening Day.

The Cubs' first baseman broke spring-training camp for the first time as a major-leaguer, but a back ailment he suffered late in camp kept him from his starting job Thursday.

"It's just a minor thing, but it's something I couldn't prevent," the 29-year-old journeyman said. "It's like a nerve thing. The nerve has settled down now, and the pain is pretty much out. Now it's just getting back into things, and I should be in there this weekend.

"The most important thing is not to go backward, to keep going forward and keep getting better. Once I'm better, I should be good to go."

LaHair said the back ailment sent pain down his leg. Jeff Baker started at first base in Thursday's 2-1 loss to the Washington Nationals.

The Cubs are off Friday, and LaHair said he might be able to come in off the bench Saturday.

Hello and goodbye:

The Cubs did some roster tweaking before the season-opener.

They selected the contracts of reliever Shawn Camp, infielder-outfielder Joe Mather and infielder Blake DeWitt. All had been at spring training as nonroster men.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Cubs placed reliever Marcos Mateo on the 60-day disabled list because of ulnar neuritis in his right arm. They also lost left-handed reliever John Gaub on waivers to Tampa Bay. The Cubs optioned Gaub to the minor leagues in spring training and were trying to outright him off the 40-man roster when Tampa claimed him.

In other moves, the Cubs optioned pitcher Casey Coleman and outfielder Tony Campana to Class AAA Iowa.

Trying to make it work:

Team chairman Tom Ricketts sounded encouraged about talks with the city to get funding for Wrigley Field renovations.

"Well, we're talking," Ricketts said. "Everyone's putting their best foot forward to try to figure out what's a big win-win for the city, the state, the team. So everybody's working pretty hard, and we'll see where it goes."

Dempster doings:

Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster worked 7 innings, giving up only 2 hits, 1 to the first batter of the game and the next in the eighth inning. He was charged with a run when reliever Kerry Wood walked in a run in the eighth. Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg worked 7 innings, giving up 5 hits and 1 run.

"He was incredible," manager Dale Sveum said of Dempster. "He got out of a couple early jams and then after that, he was pretty much as good as you can get. I think his command of his fastball, his splittie, his cutter and his slider, everything, was tremendous.

"I know he was ready to prove everybody wrong about last year and giving him the opening-day start as well. So he did a heck of a job."

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