Results tagged ‘ Jeff Samardzija ’

3/5 Cubs lineup

Jeff Samardzija makes his second Cactus League start on Wednesday when the Cubs play host to a Rockies split squad team at Cubs Park in Mesa. You can follow along on a webcast on Cubs.com. Here’s the lineup:

Kalish LF
Valbuena 3B
Lake CF
Roberts 1B
Baez SS
Kottaras C
Jackson RF
Valaika 2B
McDonald DH

Samardzija P

2/27 Extra bases

* Eric Chavez hit the first home run at Cubs Park, a two-run shot in the fifth, and Paul Goldschmidt added a two-run single in the sixth to lift the Diamondbacks to a 5-2 win Thursday over the Cubs and spoil their Cactus League opener at their new stadium. The game drew a Cactus League record crowd of 14,486, breaking the old mark of 13,721 set last March 23 between the Dodgers and White Sox in Glendale.

This was not only the first game at Cubs Park, but Rick Renteria’s first as a Major League manager.

“It feels just like another game,” the Cubs’ new skipper said. “We’re getting ready for the season and today’s the first day of basically a test to see how everybody’s doing. We’re going to use [Spring Training] to see what aspects of the game we need to improve on and basically see where everybody’s at.”

So no butterflies?

“No,” Renteria said, smiling.

* Blake Parker, coming off a season in which he appeared in a career-high 49 games, was the only Cubs pitcher to retire all three batters he faced in his one inning on Thursday in the Cactus League opener. The right-hander came into camp knowing he’s starting fresh.

“Every year you’ve got something to prove,” Parker said. “If you’re getting paid or not, you want to show them you worked hard in the offseason to be ready to pitch at any time.”

Renteria is sorting out the options for the bullpen. Parker knows that.

“You want to show these guys that you’re ready to play, whether it’s these guys or somebody else watching in the stands,” Parker said. “It’s just imperative to get ready for the season.”

* Emilio Bonifacio did exactly what the Cubs want from a leadoff man in his first at-bat when he tripled in the first. Renteria said he considers Bonifacio to be similar to Chone Figgins, who can play second, third, short and the outfield.

“He’s a guy who puts it on the ground and if he gets it through someplace, he’s got a chance to go like he did there, all the way to third base,” Renteria said of Bonifacio. “Those are some of the things he brings to the table.”

Renteria said Darwin Barney is the starting second baseman but expect to see Bonifacio get some playing time there.

* Kyuji Fujikawa, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow last June, threw 25 pitches off the mound for the second time this spring on Thursday, and is continuing to make progress. The Cubs hope the right-hander can pitch sometime this season.

* Catcher John Baker livened up Thursday’s team meeting by playing a song on his guitar that was a variation on Eddie Vedder’s “(Someday We’ll Go) All the Way.”

“I wrote a song about what it means to be a Cub,” said Baker, who got an assist on the lyrics from Barney, Kyle Hendricks, Eric Jokisch, Brett Jackson and strength coach Tim Buss.

“Ricky likes to have people do things that make it a little more fun,” Baker said of Renteria.

The lyrics were tweaked so that they were from a player’s perspective, and ended with “This year, we’ll go all the way.”

* Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo will host his second “Cook-Off for Cancer” on May 16 in Chicago. The event, which features celebrity chefs, will be held at Revel Downtown.

* Up next: Lefty Chris Rusin, who is competing for a spot in the rotation, faces the Angels and Jered Weaver in Tempe in the Cubs’ first road game this spring. Rusin was 2-6 in 13 starts last season with a 3.93 ERA. James McDonald is scheduled to follow Rusin in his first game action since Sept. 1. McDonald appeared in 16 games last season, six with the Pirates, as he struggled with shoulder problems. Top prospect Javier Baez will start at shortstop for Chicago. The game will be broadcast on WGN Radio and on Cubs.com.

– Carrie Muskat

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

2/27 Opening Day in Cactus League

It’s Opening Day for the Cubs and new manager Rick Renteria. The forecast is for sunshine and temps in the 70s. Jeff Samardzija gets the start against the Diamondbacks at new Cubs Park. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts and Mesa Mayor Scott Smith will throw out ceremonial first pitches. The game will be on WGN-TV, MLB.TV and you can listen on Cubs.com. Here’s the lineup:

Emilio Bonifacio 2B
Luis Valbuena 3B
Starlin Castro SS
Anthony Rizzo 1B
Junior Lake CF
Welington Castillo C
Justin Ruggiano LF
Mike Olt DH
Darnell McDonald RF

Olt is limited to DH duties for now because of some tenderness in his right shoulder. He says it’s normal this time of year.

– Carrie Muskat

2/24 Extra bases

* Jeff Samardzija will start the Cubs’ Cactus League opener but manager Rick Renteria wasn’t ready to name his Opening Day starter just yet. Samardzija, who did start Opening Day 2013, tested the mound at new Cubs Park on Monday with a brief workout. On Thursday, he’ll open the Cactus League season and Cubs Park’s first year against the Diamondbacks.

“So many things can happen over the course of the spring, I’m not going to lock myself into trying to divulge something I can’t determine what it will be in the end,” Renteria said when asked who would start March 31 when the Cubs open the 2014 season against the Pirates.

* In Cactus League action, lefty Chris Rusin will start Friday against the Angels in Tempe. On Saturday, the Cubs have a day-night doubleheader, and Travis Wood will go in the first game in Mesa against the Giants, and Edwin Jackson will start the night game against the Diamondbacks in Scottsdale. Jason Hammel, who signed a one-year, $6 million contract with the Cubs earlier this month, will start Sunday against the Royals.

* There were a few problems figuring out how to get from the Cubs’ complex to the field, but so far, the team’s new spring stadium, Cubs Park, is passing all the tests. On Monday, some of the Cubs, including Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro, had a chance to take batting practice at the new ballpark, which is a short golf cart ride from the Spring Training facility. Pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood tested the mound in an early session. The only minor glitch was figuring out which door to use to gain access.

“It’s a beautiful facility,” Renteria said. “Obviously, we came and saw it earlier but to have them go out there and hit, we’ll allow them to get a feel for the field.”

What did Renteria like?

“Everything,” he said. “It’s brand new, [there's] expansive seating — it’s incredible. For a Spring Training facility, that’s a big league ballpark.”

The Cubs will play a six-inning intrasquad game on Wednesday at Cubs Park starting at 1 p.m. MT. Eric Jokisch and Kyle Hendricks will start.

* There are some familiar faces in the Cubs’ Minor League mini camp, including Casey Coleman, Nick Struck, Ryan Searle, Lendy Castillo and Dae-Eun Rhee. They were asked to start their camp workouts early so they’re ready for Cactus League games if needed.

– Carrie Muskat

2/21 Extra bases

* Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta is inching closer to throwing off the mound. The right-hander, projected as one of the Cubs’ starters, has been slowed this spring because of tightness in his right shoulder. He will have a flat ground session on Saturday, and the Cubs will decide if he’s ready to take that next step and get on the mound after that.

“We’re going to take it day by day,” Arrieta said Friday. “Every day’s been good. It’s gotten progressively better. If we stay on the same schedule, I’m optimistic I’ll be ready by Opening Day.”

Arrieta has competition for the rotation. The Cubs signed free agents Jason Hammel and James McDonald and also have lefty Chris Rusin in the mix.

* Jeff Samardzija is expected to start the Cubs’ Cactus League opener next Thursday against the Diamondbacks in the first game at the team’s new Spring Training stadium, Cubs Park. Manager Rick Renteria did not reveal the rest of his spring rotation. The Cubs will tune up for Cactus League play with an intrasquad game on Wednesday at the new stadium. Top prospects Eric Jokisch and Kyle Hendricks will start that game.

* James McDonald was happy with his live batting practice session on Friday. It’s the first time the right-hander has faced a batter in about 10 months.

“This is the first time I was throwing without thinking about my arm in a while,” said McDonald, who was limited to six games with the Pirates because of shoulder issues. “I was like, ‘OK, my arm feels good.’ It was fun to be able to get out there and throw off the mound to a hitter.”

His goal, besides staying healthy, is to be better at the end of spring than he was on Friday.

“A lot of times when you first see a batter, you speed up,” McDonald said. “You get a couple times out and you start relaxing and you’re good. The first time out, seeing batters in a while, I feel like I got a little [rushed].”

* The Cubs will be featured in three live Spring Training games on MLB Network, and the games will be available in the Chicago area. Those dates include March 12 against the Mariners at 9 p.m. CT; March 18 against the Rangers at 9 p.m. CT; and March 19 against the Rockies at 8:30 p.m. CT.

– Carrie Muskat

2/19 Extra bases

* Wednesday was the Cubs’ first full squad workout, which meant it was the first day of live batting practice. Nate Schierholtz got to face exactly who he needed in lefty Travis Wood. Schierholtz is hoping he can convince Cubs manager Rick Renteria to not platoon the outfielder against left-handed pitchers. Last year, Schierholtz batted .262 against right-handers and hit .170 against lefties, part of the reason he had to share right field.

“That’s a huge goal of mine is to play every day and not necessarily platoon as much,” Schierholtz said Wednesday. “That’s one of my big goals this spring.”

* Renteria met with each player on Wednesday, and was impressed by shortstop Starlin Castro, who is coming off a tough year in which he batted a career-low .245.

“He’s very excited,” Renteria said of Castro. “We liked the way he looked in our meeting. He was very happy. We just told him to be himself, expand on his skills and improve his approach at the plate. He spoke a bit more than we did. He has an idea of what he wants to do.”

* Even though Mike Olt’s primary position is third base, he was working out at first on Wednesday on the first day of workouts. The Cubs don’t have a backup first baseman, and top prospects Kris Bryant and Christian Villanueva were sharing third during the session.

* Kyuji Fujikawa, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, had a long toss session Wednesday, throwing from about 135 feet. He is making progress.

“As long as there is nothing that sets him back, he continues to move forward,” Renteria said.

* Somehow, Blake Parker was aligned with lefties Wesley Wright, James Russell, Tommy Hottovy, Tsuyoshi Wada and Zac Rosscup. Parker is the only right-hander in that group. Did he have to adjust to the southpaws?

“No — I just took my glove off and we did a strictly right-handed shake,” Wright said.

* Besides Wood, Jeff Samardzija, Chris Rusin, Carlos Villanueva and Kyle Hendricks threw live BP sessions on Wednesday.

* Thursday’s workout in Cubs camp will start at the normal time, with stretching at 9:30 a.m. Arizona time.

– Carrie Muskat

2/19 First full squad workout

Wednesday is the day for the Cubs’ first full squad workout, which means it’s time for live batting practice, which is always entertaining. Among the pitchers scheduled to pitch are Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Villanueva, Justin Grimm, Neil Ramirez, Travis Wood, Chris Rusin, Kyle Hendricks, and Armando Rivero. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts was expected to address the media.

The players will be on the field later because manager Rick Renteria is scheduled to address them.

– Carrie Muskat

2/14 Samardzija hopes to avoid distractions

Jeff Samardzija doesn’t want to talk about a possible long-term contract with the Cubs or his name being mentioned in trade rumors.

“We’re not really going to talk about that,” Samardzija said Friday. “We’re worried about the season and getting ready to compete and win some ballgames. We don’t want any distractions, whether it’s with [contract talk] or with trade talks or this or that. For me, it’s a no comment.

“Like I’ve said before, [I want to] put no doubt in anyone’s minds about who I am and what I can be for this organization.”

This is Samardzija’s third season as a full-time starter, and his name has been mentioned in trade rumors because of the Cubs’ trend the last two seasons under president of baseball operations Theo Epstein to deal players for prospects. Samardzija avoided arbitration this year by agreeing to a one-year, $5.345 million contract. He will be a free agent after the 2015 season.

“The last resort is to go a hearing,” he said of the talks. “I felt like from the beginning, both sides were in agreement that we were pretty close.”

The right-hander is coming off his first season in which he totaled 200 innings and 200 strikeouts. He finished 8-13 with a 4.34 ERA in a career-high 33 starts. His goal this year? To improve his pitch efficiency and reduce the total walks.

One of the ways to do that is eliminate any outside distractions. Whether he’s traded or not, Samardzija, 29, is doing his best to stay focused on baseball.

“All I can do is increase my value as much as possible and I think in the end it’s going to help the organization no matter what,” he said. “It either helps the organization by keeping me here and proving that I’m that guy, or I increase my value and help them get prospects in return.”

Does he think he’ll be with the Cubs at the end of the 2014 season?

“It comes down to the team,” he said. “It comes down to where we’re at as a team. If me, [Travis Wood], [Edwin] Jackson, [Jason] Hammel, [Carlos] Villanueva, [Jake] Arrieta, so on and so forth do their job and show that we’re pretty close to where we need to be, especially as a pitching staff, which is what we can control as pitchers, a lot of times that changes the plan. [They'll say] This is an important core group of guys and we can’t break this up.”

– Carrie Muskat

2/8 Cubs, Samardzija settle

The Cubs and Jeff Samardzija reached agreement on Saturday on a one-year, $5.345 million contract, and will avoid arbitration. A hearing was scheduled for Monday in Florida. The Cubs had offered Samardzija $4.4 million, and he filed for $6.2 million. The Cubs’ Opening Day starter last season, the right-hander finished 8-13 with a 4.34 ERA and reached 200 innings and 200 strikeouts for the first time in his career.

– Carrie Muskat

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