Results tagged ‘ Jeff Samardzija ’

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

– 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

3/20 Cubs lineup

Mike Olt makes his first start at third base on Thursday when the Cubs play host to the Mariners at Cubs Park in Mesa. Jeff Samardzija gets the start in his tune up for Opening Day. You can listen to a broadcast on Here’s the lineup:

Lake LF
Barney 2B
Schierholtz RF
Olt 3B
Sweeney CF
Castillo C
Murphy SS
Roberts 1B
Samardzija P

3/18 Two weeks to go

The Cubs have a night game Tuesday in Surprise against the Rangers. There are 13 games remaining in Spring Training. Is it crunch time?

“I think some people are slow Spring Training guys, and a lot of us are like, ‘OK, let’s get going,’ so they’re hitting their stride when the season starts,” Donnie Murphy said. “I wouldn’t say it’s ‘crunch time.’ It’s more getting more hits, having more solid at-bats the closer you get to the season more than anything.”

What do the Cubs still have to do? Here’s a list:

1. Complete the rotation

Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson and Jason Hammel are set. James McDonald threw two pitches on Monday, and was pulled because of shoulder stiffness. That leaves Chris Rusin, who has looked really good, and Tsuyoshi Wada as options for the fifth spot. Carlos Villanueva also could step in if needed, although Rick Renteria says they like the right-hander more as a swing man. Villanueva will start Wednesday.

2. Finalize the bullpen spots

Jose Veras is set at closer. Who sets him up? James Russell should be fine after being slowed with a tired arm. The Cubs have to decide what to do with Jonathan Sanchez, Neil Ramirez, Justin Grimm and Blake Parker. Alberto Cabrera has given up one run on three hits in five innings over five games, and he’s out of options. The surprise this spring has been Arodys Vizcaino, who has served up two hits and one walk over three innings in three games. He’s throwing 98 mph.

3. Third base

Do the Cubs go with a combo of Luis Valbuena and Donnie Murphy, or do they give the job to Mike Olt? Olt has been unable to play third because of a tender right shoulder, but will get time there this week. He’s batting .241 with 11 strikeouts, but also shares the team lead with three home runs.

4. Figure out the bench

Junior Lake has struggled this spring. Is he ready for full work? Or is Ryan Kalish a better option for the outfield, even though he’s another left-handed bat. Chris Valaika can play anywhere but is batting .207 this spring. They like Emilio Bonifacio as a leadoff option.

5. Enjoy the kid

Javier Baez started at second base on Monday, and the Cubs want him to play third base as well before Cactus League games finish. The front office has repeated over and over that Baez will open as Iowa’s shortstop. These last two weeks will give Renteria and others one last look at their top prospect.

– Carrie Muskat

3/15 Cubs Vegas lineup

Tsuyoshi Wada gets the start for the Cubs on Saturday in Las Vegas when they face the Mets at Cashman Field. The game will be broadcast on WGN TV. Here’s the lineup:

Barney 2B
Murphy 3B
Schierholtz DH
Rizzo 1B
Sweeney CF
Baez SS
McDonald RF
Whiteside C
Szczur LF

* Jeff Samardzija is starting for the Cubs in Surprise against the Royals. That game will be broadcast on WGN Radio.

3/14 Probable pitchers

The Cubs have three straight days of split squad games, starting Saturday. Here is how the pitching will line up:

Saturday: Jeff Samardzija at Royals
Saturday: Carlos Pimentel vs. Mets in Las Vegas

Sunday: Travis Wood vs. Indians
Sunday: Chris Rusin vs. Mets in Las Vegas

Monday: Edwin Jackson vs. Angels
Monday: James McDonald at Athletics in Phoenix

Tuesday: Jason Hammel at Rangers in Surprise

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

3/10 Cubs 3, Giants 2

Emilio Bonifacio and Chris Coghlan each hit RBI singles and another run scord on an error as the Cubs edged the Giants, 3-2, on Monday at Scottsdale Stadium. Jeff Samardzija gave up two runs on five hits over four innings, striking out five. Chris Rusin threw three hitless innings in relief. The Cubs were stymied by Giants starter Matt Cain, who faced the minimum through five innings.

“They’re a great team to work against, a former world championship team,” Samardzija said of the Giants. “They come with a plan, a lot of smart players who have played together for a long time. You really get tested on days like this. I thought it went excellent. I gave up a couple runs, singles that score runs, you can live with that.”

* Up next: Travis Wood gets the start on Tuesday when the Cubs play host to the Rockies at Cubs Park in Mesa. The game will be available on webcast on

3/10 Samardzija just goes with the flow

Jeff Samardzija felt he controlled his tempo well, was able to mix his pitches the way he wanted, including his splitter, and took advantage of catcher Eli Whiteside’s background with the Giants. And no matter what he does, the Cubs’ right-hander’s name keeps popping up in trade rumors. Samardzija shrugs them off.

“Just going with the flow, man,” Samardzija said after throwing four solid innings against the Giants. “I’m out here pitching, and I’m really excited with how I feel for this season and where I’m at right now.

“I keep getting stronger and I really like how I approached this offseason with spacing it out and not throwing until a little later,” he said. “I feel like I’m peaking at the right time. I can’t control [rumors]. I”m just going to come out and pitch and keep doing my job and whatever happens will happen.”

There were plenty of scouts in the sellout crowd at Scottsdale Stadium. Samardzija’s name has been mentioned quite a bit. He’ll be a free agent after 2015, and a deal could produce a nice package of prospects for the Cubs. He’s heard the rumors.

“You’d be lying if you said things don’t cross your mind like that,” Samardzija said. “I’m human, and I have different thoughts throughout the day. Sometimes the uncertainty of the situation pops in my head, for sure. Ultimately, that’s just an excuse. I want to go out there and pitch and do my job with no excuses.

“I’m not about to come in and say my mind’s shaken because of this or that — it’s not going to happen,” he said. “I’m going to go out and do my job. If I win, I win, because I did that, and if I don’t win, it’s because I don’t perform up to the task. That’s how I look at it. I’m a very practical guy and it’s black and white for me. Right now I”m wearing a cubs uniform and that’s how I’m approaching it.”

How he approached the Giants was to rely on Whiteside, who played for the team from 2009-12.

“What a good guy to have back there,” Samardzija said of Whiteside. “He’s won two world championships with them and I think he knows the guys a little. I told him before the game, ‘You go ahead and throw down whatever you feel like, and I’ll take your word on it.’”

Samardzija scattered five hits, all singles, and did not walk a batter, and struck out five. Best of all, he controlled his tempo.

“I really feel like I slowed down out there,” he said. “I’m more under control. Me and Lester [Strode, bullpen coach] have talked about that of late. Don’t worry so much about the velocity of the pitch but more about how you’re throwing it and whether you’re selling it to the hitter.”

Samardzija was happy not to have to face Barry Bonds, who began a stint as a coach with the Giants on Monday.

“I gave up my first hit in the pros to him on this field,” Samardzija said. “I opened against the Athletics, and my second game was here and Bonds hit a ball through the hole in the shift and hooked a sinker through. That’s one of my earliest memories of being with the Cubs.

“I was happy as heck telling everybody he just got a single off me,” Samardzija said.

By the way, Samardzija never faced Bonds in the regular season.

– Carrie Muskat

3/6 Extra bases

* Reliever James Russell, who has yet to get into a Cactus League game because of some discomfort in his left arm, was scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Friday and could be in action next week. Russell, who has appeared in more than 70 games each of the last two seasons, was going through a “dead arm” phase, manager Rick Renteria said.

* Renteria has yet to name his Opening Day starter. On Wednesday, Jeff Samardzija said he was working toward Opening Day but Renteria didn’t want the media to read anything into that.

“I don’t want to lock myself in and we still have to see how everybody is falling in and staying healthy,” he said.

Told that Samardzija said he was preparing for the March 31 opener, Renteria smiled.

“That’s good,” the manager said. “[Travis] Wood said the same thing and Jake [Arrieta] said the same thing, and everybody else is saying the same thing. They’re getting ready for Opening Day.”

* Shortstop Starlin Castro is continuing to make progress in his rehab from a mild right hamstring strain. Castro, who was injured last Sunday, was expected to be sidelined seven to 10 days. He’s been receiving treatment all day at the Cubs’ complex.

* The Cubs will play split-squad games on Friday with James McDonald getting his first Cactus League start against the Angels in Tempe and Edwin Jackson starting in Mesa against the Indians. The Cubs-Angels game is another test of the new instant replay system available to managers. However, Renteria will be in Mesa for that game.

– Carrie Muskat


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