3/14 Samardzija gets Opening Day start

Cubs manager Rick Renteria named Jeff Samardzija as the Opening Day starter, and the right-hander will kick the season off on March 31 against the Pirates. This will be Samardzija’s second straight Opening Day assignment. He also started in the 2013 opener, which also was against the Pirates at PNC Park. The right-hander beat the Pirates, giving up two hits and striking out nine over eight scoreless innings, in a 3-1 Cubs win.

Ryan Dempster was the last Cubs pitcher to start consecutive Opening Days, doing so in 2011-12.

“Jeff will take the nod,” Renteria said Friday. “Everybody’s looking forward to him taking the hill against Pittsburgh.”

Left-hander Travis Wood will follow Samardzija. Both pitchers reached 200 innings last season for the first time in their careers. Samardzija finished 8-13, while Wood was 9-12.

“We’ll go Woody [in the second game] and keep working on the rest,” Renteria said of his rotation. “[Edwin Jackson] should follow and everybody will follow in line.”

The Cubs are still sorting out the rest of the rotation with Jason Hammel, Chris Rusin, Jake Arrieta, James McDonald and Carlos Villanueva in the mix.

Renteria said it wasn’t a tough decision to name Samardzija.

“Jeff’s done it before, and put in a very strong year, as Woody did,” Renteria said. “I think the decision was quite easy for all of us.”

– Carrie Muskat

3 Comments

“I think the decision was quite easy for all of us.”……..Whatever Theo tells you Rick, you will do it!

Aloha CubsTalk- Hope you folks are doing well in Chi-Town. I see you “have” a little bit of a warming trend but could have snow again on Sunday. Agree with you about a command coming from Theo. And as I mentioned before, Jeff S. is the type that wants the “hype.” So, if this helps him to have a better season and push his stocks up for that July deadline, I say it is good move. It is true that it takes pitchers time to warm up at the beginning of a season, I remember that with our college team and some of the stats I would help out with. Their fluidity, velocity, control was usually much better a couple months into the season. But, if they were keeping their arms loose and warm before the season started they could cut that down some. It is no surprise that we need pitching and if Jeff S. can get the team some much needed talent, the better the organization will be in the long run. Hope he has a good opener and builds off of it. Mahalo!

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