Cubs' Samardzija working out the kinks
Mar 02, 2013 (Chicago Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune News Service via COMTEX) --
Jeff Samardzija's second spring start Friday included a couple of hiccups, like letting former Cubs outfielder Brad Snyder cruise into second on a steal before the ball had left Samardzija's hand.
It happened in the third inning of a 6-2 loss to the Diamondbacks at HoHoKam Stadium, after Snyder walked to start the inning.
As Samardzija told it, first baseman Anthony Rizzo came up to the mound after the steal.
"I was like, 'What are you doing, man Tell me to step off or something,' " Samardzija said.
Rizzo responded: "I didn't notice it until you did."
"What, when I threw the pitch " Samardzija said to Rizzo.
Samardzija was laughing about it afterward, but one month before opening day, he conceded there were still some kinks to work out.
"We have some communication to work on between the first baseman and the catcher and the pitcher," Samardzija said. "But we have plenty of time. I don't think anyone really knew what the heck was going on. I didn't."
Samardzija's command wasn't sharp, but he managed to get a double-play grounder to limit damage in the second inning as he allowed one run on one hit and three walks in three innings.
Manager Dale Sveum reiterated he won't name his opening day starter until mid-March.
"It was one of those days where he didn't have his (split-fingered fastball)," Sveum said. "There was no depth on it. More like a changeup. He didn't have a lot of command with the fastball, but made a couple of pitches when he had to get out of a big mess. So that was good. Just not sharp."
Samardzija seems on track to get the opening day start, especially with Matt Garza rehabbing from elbow and side injuries.
"He's on a different voyage," Sveum said of Samardzija. "Last year, it was to prove he could start, and he did that. Now he's on a mission to be one of the best starting pitchers in baseball."
Clevenger watch: In a surprise move, Sveum said catcher Steve Clevenger will get some playing time at first base, second and perhaps third and the outfield to try to make the team as a utility man. Clevenger will play first on Saturday.
"I'm glad he's doing something to help me make the team," Clevenger said.
Clevenger hasn't played second base since 2006 and has only four games in the minors at third and none in the outfield.
"I played outfield in high school a little bit," he said. "But how hard is it to catch a fly ball "
David DeJesus could tell him the degree of difficulty in right field at Wrigley Field is pretty high. Clevenger said coach Dave McKay "experimented" with him in the outfield at Wrigley before some games last year.
"It's a little tough at Wrigley at first with the wind and the sun in right field," Clevenger said. "I was like, 'Oh, I don't know whether I'm going to be able to do this at Wrigley.' But you get comfortable the more you do it."
Extra innings: Starlin Castro will get to rest his hamstring a couple of more days and probably return Monday, Sveum said. ... Former Cubs outfielder Tony Campana had a double and a triple in two at-bats Friday against his former team.
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