3/23 Samardzija: “All I have to do is keep pitching”

Jeff Samardzija was roughed up for more runs in one inning than he’d given up in three previous outings but the Cubs right-hander blamed mental mistakes and said he’ll learned from it. Samardzija had given up three runs on six hits over 10 innings in his three previous Cactus League outings but the Rockies topped that in the second on Friday. Chris Nelson led off with a home run and the Rockies loaded the bases on three singles, two of them infield hits. Carlos Gonzalez then cleared the bases with a double to take a 5-3 lead.

“The ball was up all day,” Samardzija said. “Against this team, they’re pretty free swinging and I’m a power pitcher. If I’m down in the zone, it turns into quick outs. If not, you see a cutter there, it gets fisted out, it gets over second base, things like that. Those balls are down, they’re ground balls and you’re moving on. I need to make a quicker adjustment. It’s just a couple pitches here or there to improve on.”

Samardzija, a strong candidate for one of the vacancies in the Cubs rotation, settled down in the third and retired the side in order.

“It felt great to do that and apply what I needed to do, come out and pound the zone with my fastball and be aggressive,” he said.

Dale Sveum named Ryan Dempster the Opening Day starter on Friday. Matt Garza and Paul Maholm also have secured spots in the rotation. What does Samardzija have to do?

“All I have to do is keep pitching,” Samardzija said. “I’m very happy with how things are going and how I’m pitching and I’m just going to keep throwing and they’ll make the decision when they make the decision.”

Randy Wells, Rodrigo Lopez and Chris Volstad are making it tough to relax, too. They also are battling for those spots.

“You need to keep showing them that you’re out there improving and getting ready for the season,” Samardzija said.

— Carrie Muskat

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