3/11 Samardzija tunes up

In Jeff Samardzija’s previous outing last Wednesday, he was on a backfield in Surprise, facing Rangers Minor Leaguers in a “B” game that started at 10 a.m. On Monday, the Cubs right-hander was starting in front of a sellout crowd of 12,436 at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. The results were better against the Diamondbacks.

“when you’re in that environment of no anxiety and no pressure, it allows you to be a little more free on the mound of what you want to do,” Samardzija said of the “B” game. “Although the results might not be what you want, if you can look back on your outing and say there are a couple things that you did better than the time before, that’s what it’s all about.”

He could definitely say that against the Diamondbacks. Samardzija, the Cubs’ Opening Day starter, did give up four runs on four hits, including two home runs, and two walks over 4 2/3 innings. He also helped himself by hitting a solo home run in the fifth.

“Close your eyes and you run into things sometimes,” he said of his home run.

He’s still working on getting his offspeed pitches down in the zone, but said Monday was his best outing.

“I really thought today was a big turn for me, just how I felt,” he said. “If I missed, I didn’t miss by much. The adjustments I need to make are pretty simple.”

He has about three starts remaining this spring to tune up for his April 1 start against the Pirates, including a start this weekend against the Rangers, who he could see in April in Interleague play. Samardzija will keep working on his pitches, but don’t expect him to reveal everything.

“You don’t want to show them everything in Spring Training,” he said.

– Carrie Muskat

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