3/8 Samardzija: "I'm in a good spot"

Jeff Samardzija made his first Cactus League appearance Monday, giving up one hit and one walk over two innings. He did hit a batter, but that was with his slider and the first one he threw.

“That one doesn’t count,” he said.

This is his third spring in big league camp and the right-hander is a different pitcher.

“I’m a little smoother, a little more confident and have more of a game plan,” he said. “I’m confident with my slider in how it’s going, confident with my split. I’m really confident with the angle of my fastball. I just feel really good. I’m excited to get back out there again.”

He was to have started one of Sunday’s washed out games and expected to get the chance to start soon. Samardzija is competing with Sean Marshall, Tom Gorzelanny and Carlos Silva for one of the two openings in the rotation. He did have success in 2008 pitching in relief.

“I’m not the same guy I was then or even last year,” he said. “I’m a totally different pitcher. I like how I’m throwing now, I really do. I’m excited to get out there again and get the pitch count up and get deeper in a game.”

There are different expectations placed on him because of his past as an All-America wide receiver at Notre Dame. He was the big man on campus.

“If you ask anybody, they’d rather have the pressure of being pushed quick and trying to make the adjustment than having to grind it out for four, five years,” Samardzija said. “I put the pressure on myself to learn quick. … I’d like to take the last two years and take from them what I have. Other than that, it was a learning experience. Where I’m at now is a good spot.”

– Carrie Muskat

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