Results tagged ‘ Jeff Samardzija ’

4/11 Cubs lineup

The Cubs open a three-game series in St. Louis against the Cardinals on Friday, sending Jeff Samardzija against Joe Kelly. Here’s the lineup:

Bonifacio 2B
Valbuena 3B
Rizzo 1B
Schierholtz RF
Sweeney CF
Castro SS
Kalish LF
Castillo C
Samardzija P

* Bonifacio is tied for the Major League lead in hits with 19, and ranks fourth with a .452 batting average. His 19 hits in the first nine games of a season are the most by any Cubs player in the last 100 years since Randy Jackson had 19 in 1954. Thanks to STATS Inc. for that nugget.

* For the rest of the series:

Saturday: Carlos Villanueva vs. Adam Wainwright
Sunday: Edwin Jackson vs. Michael Wada

– Carrie Muskat

4/5 Phillies 2, Cubs 0

Jeff Samardzija posted the fourth quality start in five games for the Cubs. Emilio Bonifacio and Starlin Castro got on base five times. Now, if the Cubs could just drive runners in — and keep Chase Utley quiet — they might turn things around. Utley had three hits, including his second home run in as many games, and scored the Phillies’ second run to post a 2-0 victory Saturday over the Cubs in front of 30,651 fans bundled up to deal with the brisk game-time temperature of 39 degrees.

Samardzija took the loss in his first start at Wrigley Field this season, giving up six hits over seven innings and striking out eight. It was the fourth quality start in five games for a Cubs pitcher, and the Chicago starters now have a 1.95 ERA this season (seven earned runs over 32 1/3 innings).

Renteria, still waiting to hear “Go Cubs Go” played after a home win, loaded the lineup with right-handed hitters Mike Olt, Junior Lake and Justin Ruggiano against Lee, who was the third left-handed starter the Cubs have faced in five games. Lee shrugged it off, and scattered 10 hits over seven innings. But the Cubs didn’t help themselves, stranding 10 runners, and now are 4-for-40 with runners in scoring position in five games.

“You do have to be relaxed and know the pitcher is on the ropes a little bit,” Renteria said. “You talk about it and see if it starts to take hold, an understanding of that particular situation, so guys can be a little more relaxed.”

Samardzija knows his teammates are doing everything they can.

“I see these guys work every day and I know what they’re doing,” Samardzija said. “If it was a different situation and I thought they were lazy, it’d be different. Guys come to work every day and do everything they can. It’s early in the season, and we’ll keep going, keep pushing and figure this out.”

Renteria plans on repeating the message.

“It’s OK if it’s a broken record — you keep repeating it and you keep talking about it,” Renteria said. “You never stop talking about it until you start to understand it and get a good feel for it. A lot of it is more games, just keep getting in more games. I know we didn’t come up with a victory today but for me, it was a ballgame we were in the whole way.”

– Carrie Muskat

4/5 Cubs lineup

The sun is shining at Wrigley Field, but it’s still a little chilly as the Cubs prepare to play the Phillies in Game 2 of their three-game series. Here’s the lineup vs. lefty Cliff Lee:

Bonifacio CF
Castro SS
Ruggiano RF
Rizzo 1B
Lake LF
Olt 3B
Castillo C
Barney 2B
Samardzija P

4/4 Extra bases

* Cubs top prospect Jorge Soler had to leave his Minor League season opener Thursday after he hit a double because of a sore left hamstring. Soler doubled in the first inning for Double-A Tennessee off Mat Latos, who was making a rehab start for Pensacola. Soler was limited to 55 games at Class A Daytona last season because of a strained left calf.

“It sounds like the exact same injury,” Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said Friday. “He maybe rushed back too early to get ready for Opening Day or maybe it’s a coincidence. He hits a double in the gap against Latos and it’s a shame that’s the way his season started out. Hopefully, we’ll get good news and he’ll be back on the field soon.”

Soler was to have an MRI on his leg either Friday or Saturday, Hoyer said.

* Hoyer would not say whether the Cubs are still talking to Jeff Samardzija about a contract extension, or if the team would discuss anything this season.

“We’ll keep that in house,” Hoyer said. “In general, it’s up to the player [whether to talk in-season]. We don’t have any problem negotiating in season. I don’t have to hit a fastball or throw a strike. It doesn’t bother me or [president of baseball operations Theo Epstein], but if he or his agent thinks it’ll influence a performance at all, then we don’t do it. We take it on a case by case basis.”

* Cubs pitcher Carlos Villanueva threw a bullpen on Friday in preparation for what he feels will be his first start on Sunday. The right-hander was eager to get back on the mound.

“I threw a bullpen and I told [pitching coach Chris] Bosio, ‘I wish I could pitch today,’” Villanueva said. “I feel really good today.”

Villanueva took the loss in the Cubs’ first two games Monday and Wednesday, pitching in relief. His start on Sunday was in question because of the workload and manager Rick Renteria said he would talk with Bosio to go over their options. As far as Villanueva is concerned, he’s starting in the series finale against the Phillies.

“I’m in on Sunday,” Villanueva said. “Unless, they tell me otherwise, I’m in.”

– Carrie Muskat

3/31 Game 1: Pirates 1, Cubs 0

Neil Walker spoiled Rick Renteria’s managerial debut. Walker smacked a walkoff home run in the 10th inning Monday to lift the Pirates to a 1-0 victory over the Cubs on a sun-splashed day at PNC Park. Walker connected on a 3-2 pitch from Carlos Villanueva, who won the fifth spot in the rotation, but was not scheduled to start until Sunday. It was Walker’s first career walkoff hit.

The Cubs had chances, stranding eight batters in the game, and went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

Renteria made his managerial debut in front of 39,833, the largest regular season crowd in PNC Park history. He also was the first to use expanded instant replay in the history of Major League Baseball when he challenged a play at first base in the fifth inning.

This was Jeff Samardzija’s second straight Opening Day start, and second in a row at PNC Park. One year ago, he gave up two hits over eight shutout innings in the Cubs’ win. On Monday, he threw seven shutout innings.

“You can only control what you can control,” Samardzija said about the lack of offense. “[Pitchers] have a bat, too. We have a say in how it turns out. We need to take advantage of every opportunity we get. Ultimately, we’re out there pitching and that’s our job. We’re not here to speculate, we’re not here to say this or that. We’re pitchers and we’re out there to pitch. These guys are working hard and we have their back 100 percent. The quicker we can get them in the dugout, the better chance we have to score some runs.”

Renteria, 52, has come full circle. He made his big league debut at Three Rivers Stadium with the Pirates on Sept. 14, 1986, against the Cubs.

The Cubs batted .218 last year with RISP, worst in the National League. Anthony Rizzo doesn’t expect a repeat of that.

“We’re a very confident group,” Rizzo said. “It’s a good thing. There’s a lot of good energy in the dugout and the clubhouse before the game. It’s a tough loss, obviously, but it’s one game. No one’s going home yet. It’s nice to have the energy in here. Runs will be scored.”

– Carrie Muskat

3/30 Opening Day eve …

On Monday, the games count. It was snowing and sleeting in Pittsburgh Saturday night when the Cubs arrived from Phoenix. They’ll kick off the 2014 season on Monday at PNC Park, and the forecast calls for lots of sunshine and temperatures in the upper 50s. There is zero chance of precipitation. First pitch is scheduled for 12:05 p.m. CT.

* The Cubs are 75-61-2 all-time on Opening Day, including a 46-38 record on the road. They are looking to win consecutive Opening Day games for the first time since winning four straight from 2003-06.

* Last year, the Cubs had three new pitchers in the rotation in Edwin Jackson, Scott Feldman and Carlos Villanueva. This year, four of the five pitchers in the Cubs’ season-opening starting rotation are returnees: Jeff Samardzija, Jackson, Travis Wood and Villanueva. Jason Hammel is the lone new starting pitcher.

* Luis Valbuena finished tied for the Major League lead (with the Reds’ Chris Heisey) with six home spring home runs. Javier Baez and Mike Olt were tied for third with five homers apiece.

* Ryan Kalish’s six stolen bases were tied for fifth in the Cactus League with the D-backs’ Tony Campana. Emilio Bonifacio’s four triples were tied for third in the Cactus League. Alberto Cabrera’s three saves were tied for second.

* The Cubs smacked 36 home runs this spring, most in the Majors, but the team’s .237 batting average was the lowest among Cactus League clubs.

* Cubs pitchers posted 10 saves, tied for the Cactus League lead with the Giants.

* The 2014 season marks manager Rick Renteria’s 16th year as a manager or coach following a 13-year playing career (1980-89, 1991-94). He spent the previous six seasons on the Padres coaching staff, including the last three as the club’s bench coach (2011-13).

3/25 Looking ahead …

Here are the starting pitchers for the final Cactus League games:

Wednesday at Diamondbacks, Scottsdale: Jeff Samardzija (Chris Rusin to follow)
Thursday vs. White Sox, Mesa: Travis Wood
Friday vs. Diamondbacks, Chase Field: Edwin Jackson
Saturday vs. Diamondbacks, Chase Field: Jason Hammel

3/22 Pitching notes

* Looking ahead, pitching-wise, Jeff Samardzija will make his final spring start on Wednesday against the jet-lagged Diamondbacks in Scottsdale. Arizona has already opened the season with a game in Australia.

* Travis Wood will start the Cubs’ home opener on April 4.

“It’ll be exciting for sure, even though Pittsburgh is a great place to pitch,” said Wood, who had been expected to follow Jeff Samardzija in the rotation.

Isn’t Wrigley Field a good place?

“Wrigley’s fine,” Wood said, laughing. “It’ll be cold either place, so it’s not like the weather will be different. The place will be packed, it’ll be jumping, it’ll be nice.”

Rick Renteria said they made the decision because of matchups. Wood has made three starts against the Phillies, and held them to five runs on 13 hits over 21 1/3 innings.

* The Cubs are still trying to fill the fifth spot in the rotation. The candidates include Carlos Villanueva, Chris Rusin and Tsuyoshi Wada. Villanueva, a valuable swingman, will start Monday against the Padres, while Wada will start Tuesday against the Angels. Rusin, who threw five shutout innings on Friday against the White Sox, is a possibility, but the Cubs may pick Villanueva because of his versatility and the fact they have four off days in the first three weeks of games. If the other four starters stay on a five-day rotation, Villanueva could slide into the bullpen until needed.

Renteria didn’t tip his hand on Saturday when asked about the fifth spot.

“They’re all still in the mix,” he said. “They’re all going out there and doing a nice job.”

* The Cubs had projected Jake Arrieta as the fifth starter but he’s been slowed this spring because of tightness in his right shoulder. On Sunday, Arrieta was scheduled to throw a bullpen.

“I’m hoping the next step is a game,” he said Saturday. “We’ll talk things over and see where we stand.”

* Cubs fans will get a chance to see two of the top pitching prospects on Tuesday when C.J. Edwards and Eric Jokisch pitch against the Padres. Edwards, 22, was a combined 8-2 with a 1.86 ERA in 24 games with Class A Hickory and Daytona last season. The Cubs acquired him in the Matt Garza deal. Jokisch, 24, was 11-13 with a 3.42 ERA at Double-A Tennessee in 2013.

– Carrie Muskat

3/20 Mariners 3, Cubs 0

Jeff Samardzija continued his tune-up for Opening Day. He struck out eight over 5 1/3 innings Thursday in the Cubs’ 3-0 loss to the Mariners. The right-hander felt much better than he did in his previous outing when he was charged with four runs on seven hits and three walks over 3 2/3 innings. He made a few changes in his mechanics after a side session or two with pitching coach Chris Bosio.

“The more I pitch, the more I realize it’s little things,” Samardzija said. “You start overhauling stuff too much, you’ll find yourself constantly changing. Sometimes it just clicks, a lot of times it has to do with conditioning and your arm and when your arm strength comes around, you’re able to do more things than what you could do before. I thought we did a couple more things that kept me from flying open and kept me closed and kept the ball on the plate more.”

Samardzija got some help from left fielder Junior Lake, who robbed Logan Morrison of a home run with a perfectly timed leaping catch at the wall with one on in the sixth. Samardzija was then pulled. He’ll have one more Cactus League start before the regular season begins.

“We’re ready to get going,” Samardzija said. “Let’s finish these last few games up strong and keep everyone healthy and get this show on the road.”

* Mike Olt, slowed by a tender right shoulder this spring, made his first start at third for the Cubs and played seven innings. He did not appear to have any problems in the field.

“It felt great to be out there, I felt like I was part of the game,” Olt said. “I was a little rusty but I’m glad I wa able to get out there and really test it out.”

He would’ve liked to field a couple more ground balls but the Mariners somehow waited until he was out of the game. Backup Jonathan Mota handled back to back plays at third to open the Seattle eighth.

“That’s how it always works,” Olt said. “The ball will find you when you get in there.”

* Thursday’s game was played in front of a Cactus League record crowd of 15,243 at Cubs Park. The Cubs, who are averaging 13,909 in 11 dates at their new Spring Training ballpark, had set the previous attendance high of 15,191 on March 14 against the Dodgers. Thursday was the second crowd to top 15,000 at Cubs Park.

* On deck: Chris Rusin, a candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation, will start Friday when the Cubs travel to Glendale to face the White Sox. Rusin looked sharp in his last outing against the Mets, giving up one hit over four innings and striking out two. Javier Baez, who shares the Cactus League lead in home runs with five, will start at shortstop, with Anthony Rizzo at first. The game will be broadcast on Cubs.com.

– Carrie Muskat

3/20 Heads up

Cubs pitchers know they could have a line drive coming at them at any time, but the new protective hats MLB has proposed apparently aren’t very popular. Would Jeff Samardzija wear one?

“No,” he said. “They look stupid.”

The topic of pitchers wearing helmets was revived after Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman was struck in the face with by a line drive Wednesday night. Chapman will be sidelined at least six weeks. A protective cap wouldn’t have stopped the line drive from hitting him in the face.

“It’s like the old school days in hockey,” Samardzija said. “Those guys weren’t asking for helmets, they made them put them on. We know we put ourselves at risk when we go out there and you need to be ready at any time. I think in Spring Training it’s more common [to have injuries like that] because your sense of awareness and how much you’re into it isn’t like what it is during the season.”

– Carrie Muskat

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