3/29 Samardzija earns spot in rotation

Jeff Samardzija set school records in touchdowns, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns at Notre Dame, has played in bowl games, and in front of 100,000 fans. But on Thursday, he scored a personal goal, securing a spot in the Cubs starting rotation. The right-hander was named as the No. 3 starter, following Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza. Chris Volstad and Paul Maholm round out the starting five.

“This could be right up there,” said Samardzija, who has pitched primarily in relief for the Cubs since he was drafted in 2006. “It’s definitely at the top because I feel I went through college and I just played. It was natural and I didn’t have too many setbacks. I didn’t play much freshman, sophomore year because I was 185 pounds. I didn’t have too many things that I’ve really had to earn and I had to earn this and it feels good. To put that work in and see it pay off, it’s pretty nice.”

Samardzija had a strong spring with the exception of one outing against the Rockies when he gave up seven runs on 10 hits over four innings. On Wednesday, he faced the Indians and threw six scoreless innings, giving up three hits. Cleveland did the same as Colorado, and overloaded the lineup with left-handed hitters.

On Thursday, Samardzija was called into Dale Sveum’s office to get the news.

“We just kind of said ‘thanks’ to each other, for me personally to get the opportunity to do it and they were happy I didn’t take it for granted and just show up and go thorugh the motions,” Samardzija said. “It felt good.”

— Carrie Muskat

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