Jeff Samardzija is having one hill of a time
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com June 23, 2012 10:58PM
Jeff Samardzija hasn’t lasted six innings in his last four starts. | Ross D. Franklin~AP
The facts: 3:10 p.m., CSN, 720-AM.
The pitchers: Matt Garza (3-5, 4.07 ERA) vs. Wade Miley (8-3, 2.30)
Updated: July 25, 2012 6:55AM
PHOENIX — Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija got up early Saturday morning, and with temperatures already pushing 90 degrees, he ran up Camelback Mountain in Phoenix.
Then he met coaches in the lobby of the hotel before noon to go to the ballpark, where he broke off from the group and ran stairs in the upper deck of Chase Field.
Then he showed up in the batting cage before most hitters were even at the park and stood on
Jell-O legs taking swings until pitching coach Chris Bosio had to tell him to take a break.
Clearly, Samardzija wasn’t happy about his results in Friday night’s 6-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Clearer still, the big right-hander has no stamina issues as he approaches midseason in his first full year as a big-league starter and with an innings total for the year that’s just five short of his total for all of last season.
Friday was the fourth straight start in which Samardzija lasted 51/3 innings or fewer.
Bosio said he likes what he has seen overall in Samardzija — particularly the attitude he showed when he took out Friday’s anger on a mountain Saturday morning — and considers what he’s going through a normal part of the process of learning to be a starter.
‘‘One thing that we’ve done with Jeff more so than anybody — and maybe it’s something we also have to look at — is he’s not been able to stay on that five-day rotation because we’re trying to watch pitches,’’ Bosio said. ‘‘And maybe that is a disservice to him. There’s a lot to be said for staying on a regular routine. But when you’re talking about a special talent like Jeff, it’s hard to have it both ways. Do I see a pattern? No. I see a guy, along with the rest of the guys on the starting staff, having challenging nights every time they go out there, which is major-league baseball.’’
Bosio said they’ll stick to the plan they devised for Samardzija before the season started, and he’s confident he’ll push through his recent middle-inning issues.
No ‘E’ in Barney
Darwin Barney took a 57-game (4711/3 innings) errorless streak into Saturday’s game. The last Cubs middle infielder with a streak that long was Mike Fontenot in 2008 (90 games), and he didn’t reach as many balls.
‘‘He’s got good range, especially to his left,’’ said manager Dale Sveum, a former middle infielder. ‘‘He’s sucked up a lot of left-handed balls to the hole and done a great job. He’s far and above what I saw from the other side of the fence.’’
Race is on
Only two other Cubs teams have had a worse record through 70 games than this year’s 24-46 mark: 1901 and 1966, in which the team started 22-48.
The bright side? With 92 games left, the race is on for the top overall pick in next year’s draft. Here’s what the 2013 draft order would be if the season ended now: 1. Cubs; 2, San Diego (½-game back); 3, Colorado (2½); 4, Houston (4); 5, Minnesota (4½).
Sports editor’s note: The Cubs-Diamondbacks game ended too late for this edition. For late scores, go to www.suntimes.com/sports.