Yesterday, Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella announced the back-end of the rotation – Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny – which also meant that he was announcing that Jeff Samardzija and Sean Marshall would start the year in the bullpen. And for Samardzija, who has said repeatedly that he wants to start, it was a bitter pill.

Samardzija, the former Notre Dame football star, said he understood the decision and accepted it — but not before telling manager Lou Piniella he disagreed and thought he should be starting.

”Trust me, I’m just a competitive guy,” Samardzija said, ”and when we talk about starting and everything, a lot of it has to do with me just being a competitive guy. And I get my mind set on things, and there’s certain things I want to do. But you’ve got to be like that. If you don’t have that edge in professional sports and have an idea where you want to be, things are going to slip by, and that’s the last thing I want.”  CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.

The truth is, Samardzija should just be happy he made the Cubs at all. It would have been a completely reasonable decision to send Samardzija – who had a 6.00 ERA in 9 Spring innings, while giving up an atrocious 16 baserunners in that span – down to Iowa to keep working.

To his credit, Samardzija collected himself, and managed to spout the company line through what may have been gritted teeth.

”[Piniella and I] talked about it, and just like any conversation goes, there’s one side and there’s another side,” Samardzija said. ”Ultimately, you’ve got to have one part where you come back to, and for us it was pretty easy, what he asked me to do for this team. And I’ve always had the same approach. I just want to win games. And he felt that would be the best way for me to help this team, so that’s what we’re going to do.”

Hopefully Samardzija sticks to that view, and dedicates himself to being the best reliever he can be. His reaction, of course, is strongly contrasted with that of Sean Marshall – a guy who outpitched every single starting pitcher in camp – who is continually gracious in landing in the bullpen. When he says that he just wants to do what’s best for the Cubs and helps the team win, I believe it. Samardzija could probably learn a thing or two from Marshall.

I certainly hope that there isn’t an entitlement issue with Samardzija – who received a big money, Major League contract when he was drafted by the Cubs. Surely, there were expectations placed on him at that point that were probably unfair, but you can imagine how it could lead to a kid thinking he was supposed run before he’d crawled. It must be said that Samardzija always seems like a nice guy and a team player in every interview you hear. He’s doubtless just a competitive guy who really wants to start.

But you’re a reliever now, Jeff, and the Cubs desperately need you to be a good one.

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  • Brian

    Once again, Ace, you hit the nail on the head. I saw Samardjia throwing against the A’s (not pitching) and he looked god-awful. I’ve never been a fan of him, thought he was a product of the Chicago media hype machine, and shocked by the no trade clause he was given as an unproven rookie. Really, Jim, what were you thinkin’? The fact that he’s got a bigger mouth than an arm really doesn’t surprise me. I realise that he probably gets more attention than some of the other fringe pitchers who are just as good (Stevens, Gaub, Kashner, Atkins, Mathis, Dolis, Mateo, et al.) but he better learn to zip it or he’s gonna start getting the Jones/Hawkins/Bradley treatment every time he takes the mound. Please Jim, get him to waive his NTC so we can send him and Marmol off to the Padres for Health Bell (I’d even throw n Vitters just to get the deal done). Until then, Jeff, take a look at Marshall’s numbers compared to yours before you start wining about not starting.

  • KB

    Hendry, Lou, Larry Roth and Gary Hughes should have a little sit-down with the toothless Shark and outline some basics:

    1. Learn another pitch, jackass. This is MLB.
    2. STFU

  • KB

    One more thing: Hendry worships Notre Dame.
    Hendry signs Shark to most ludicrous contract imaginable.

    • Brian


      You’re right on. MLB is not like NBA or NFL. You draft in quantity, not quality. It makes no sense to pay this guy all that front money (though I don’t really have a problem with that part) AND give him a no trade clause. I don’t even think Prior, Strassberg, or that Cuban kid on the Reds (I can’t think of his name) got a better deal up front – 10 million, a no trade clause, and no rush to develop. I can only say to Jeff (and I hope he’s reading, but he’s probably not): Stop bitching about not starting and start concentrating on how to get three straight batters out without walking anybody or getting lit up like a tiki torch. Because once Lilly comes back, one of the starters is going to the pen (probably Silva). That means your ass is going back to Iowa where you can start all you want and be the star interview for the Iowa City Times, Ames Gazette, and Cedar Rapids Sentinel. Enjoy.

  • biggz

    Jeff Samardzija is Kind of Pissed; Also, a massive gash