2/27 Samardzija’s spring debut

Jeff Samardzija’s goal this season is to be more efficient, so walking the leadoff batter wasn’t a good start.

“It must have been the fireworks or something,” Samardzija said, laughing. “I think it was the first time the Cubbies ever had fireworks.”

Samardzija started in the Cactus League opener and first game ever at new Cubs Park on Thursday, and survived that first inning glitch and the fireworks. The right-hander has been a hot topic in offseason trade rumors. There were plenty of scouts at Thursday’s game, and not just for the commemorative pin celebrating the stadium’s debut.

“You’re not really worried about too much,” Samardzija said of the scouts. “You assume they’re there every game. I want to put on a good show for them.”

The Blue Jays and Diamondbacks were among the teams believed to be interested in adding the right-hander to their rotation. Did he even think about pitching for Arizona?

“No, I’ve only played for the Cubbies so I only know one team to play for and that’s here,” he said. “I don’t worry about that too much.”

The rumors haven’t been a distraction.

“If anything [the rumors] just put a chip on your shoulder and make you want to go out and prove even more,” Samardzija said. “That’s the thing about this game is that you’re constantly going out to prove yourself. It doesn’t matter what your contact situation is or anyting like that. The only thing that matters is proving yourself that day against the team you’re playing against.

“It’s a tough game, so when you do do well, it feels good personally and you build on that for your next time out and the time after that,” he said. “If you’re not your own hardest critic and not checking yourself harder than anyone else, then you have a problem. I’m my hardest critic and I’ll always be that way.”

All the talk is not going to go away, and Samardzija knows that. The Cubs have discussed a long-term deal but the two sides obviously haven’t agreed on terms. The right-hander said he’d be surprised if he was dealt before the season began.

“From what it sounds like right now, we’re going head over heels for the season with this team,” Samardzija said of the Cubs. “Rick’s made it very clear we’re here to win, which I love. I love to hear him talk about his excitement for winning. Not development — development is part of it, but Rick’s No. 1 goal is winning, and me and him are 100 percent on the same page when it comes to that. we want to win, we want to win here and we want to win now.”

– Carrie Muskat

10 Comments

“Me and him are 100% on the same page?” And he matriculated at Notre Dame? I thought there were high academic standards at that venerable institution?

Professor Henry Higgins would love to have Jeff speak into a recording device to study Shark’s unique South Bend vocabulary.

It’s only Spring Training ……….these games & stats do not count……no need to worry.

I admire your sense of humor, Cubs Talk. I surmise we should give Jeff a pass because it’s spring training. I’m willing to do that going forward. With all the rumors surrounding his status, I do not reckon he is going to be Cubs property far into this upcoming season. Since we are not projected to be serious contenders in 2014, it would profit us to unload him to another club for some “can’t miss” prospects. Do you not concur?

I see no reason to sign Shark to a long term deal…..Theo still needs to add young pitching arms……..the key word there was “pitching”……Shark is a thrower, not a pitcher……Shark will be back in a bullpen someday with him always throwing 115 pitches every 5 innings per start……….some GM who is in a panic stage will over pay for Shark this July………lets cross our fingers Shark will not develop a tired arm or need TJ surgery before then………..Theo will receive top notch pitching prospects, the Cubs farm system will have a few more top 100 prospects, and the team vocabulary will improve greatly…………as for my sense of humor, there were Cubs fans who liked it at Cubs Den, but not their Editor. Since I was forced into Exile, many of Cubs Den readers never returned,.

Aloha jhosk and Cubs Talk- I think it is a real treat these days when a young person in their 20’s/early 30’s can speak and and do it well. Recently walking around the college I went to a few years back and hearing the students speak today, I was just amazed. Not saying all are like this, but with smartphones and tablets ruling the day, folks walking with their heads bent down not paying attention to their surroundings, typing in some form of shorthand and sending off a text, not to mention not being able to socialize like folks did 30-50yrs ago, is it of no wonder that this “Millennial Generation” cannot communicate effectively? And parents thing it is great that their kids are able to play with these devices at such an early age? Well, that is for another discussion. I think jhosk as you have mentioned on other occasions and I am in total agreement, Samardzija will be gone. Even if he has an amazing spring leading into summer, the better for our Cubs. As Cubs Talk said, there will be some GM willing to pay for someone that throws hard and hope he does not slow down or hurt himself. I think this whole thing has been a distraction and that is not good around the younger folks. A friend of mine told me that Samardzija “talked” a lot while at Notre Dame. I am not saying that there is not a time and place for that but there is also something called decorum and tack and the last thing this team needs is another Zambrano. I would hope if he is traded, that he will be like Alex Smith (former 49’er QB) was to the SF Bay Area: He thanked the fans for their support through thick and thin and he wished the 49er’s well; that was class. Now time for some ball. Mahalo!

Bonjour, k.g. I do agree that was a graceful manner in which Alex Smith departed the 49ers. I’m confident Shark would demonstrate much the same class were he traded to another organization. Were it a contender, he’d welcome it. I surely agree we want no more Zambranos. We have needs in several areas, but as yesterday’s debacle suggests, young pitching prospects are needed most.

Aloha jhosk- Thank you for your reply about Smith, I do hope that other folks will follow his example and how neat it was to see him almost take the Chiefs to a SB! Yes, when I first heard about Kris Bryant’s blast and the 15 runs, I was thinking it was our Cubbies, then when I saw the final in the Angels’ favor I was thinking just like what you mentioned. We need pitching in a bad way and if a Samardzija can bring that to the organization in a trade, that will be wonderful. Our position players are looking better. I have to give the SF Giants credit as they where building their farm system, they worked hard on the pitching, put it first and arguably it won them the 2010 and 2012 WS. Yes, they acquired some arms where needed but they also had folks that came through their system i.e. Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner. Our Cubbies really need starting pitchers that not only can give us innings but consistency as the Giants showed in those years. Sure it would be great to have a powerful offense but again, the Giants showed what could be done with very good pitching and good defense while being able to play “small-ball,” on offense. During those years, the team will tell you that they never felt they were not in a game, even if they were behind in the late innings. They were not depending on the hr and if it happened, great but if not they were able to create offense in other ways and the pitching held. Would love to see that for our Cubs. Take care now. Mahalo!

Those are excellent points you make, k.g. Good pitching can carry teams far and in spite of poor offense. I recall the Dodgers back in the Koufax and Drysdale years when the position players were a bunch of “hitless wonders.” The 2013 playoffs involved teams with only impressive pitching staffs. Btw, am a big fan of Lincecum. I know his numbers have been down of late compared to the Cy Young years, but love his effort and competitive nature.

Aloha jhosk to say thank you for this. My father would talk about Koufax and Drysdale as they were rivals to his Yankees, but if the pitching holds up, it is amazing how even the most potent offense can be shut down. I think about are Cubbies in the play offsnot too many years ago and having such a hard time in 07/08 scoring runs. That is good pitching for you. Neat to hear you are are fan of Lincecum. My wife is a Giant’s fan through and through and probably thought I was a little hard on Tim, but as you mentioned he has heart and found a way to participate in a big way. Want that for our folks too. Take care now and thanks for the “trip down memorial lane!” Mahalo.

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