Samardzija NL co-player of the week
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter August 26, 2013 10:48PM
CUBS AT DODGERS
The facts: 9:10 p.m., Ch. 9, 720-AM.
The pitchers: Travis Wood (7-10, 3.22 ERA) vs. Clayton Kershaw (13-7, 1.72).
Updated: August 27, 2013 12:14AM
LOS ANGELES — On the day the Mets’ young ace, Matt Harvey, was learning how serious his elbow injury is, the Cubs’ young building-block pitcher, Jeff Samardzija — who has been compared by hitters and managers to the lights-out Harvey — was honored as the National League’s co-player of the week.
It’s both a sign of how quickly fortunes can change in big-league baseball and, in the case of Samardzija, maybe a harbinger for his last six starts and a possible first 200-inning season.
“That’s the plan,” said Samardzija, who became the third Cubs pitcher in a decade (Ryan Dempster last year and Carlos Zambrano in 2008) to win the player-of-the-week award. “You can’t take anything for granted. We’re still not there yet. We need to keep working.”
Perhaps as impressive as Samardzija’s dominant starts against Washington and San Diego to earn the honor is his durability. The power-pitching right-hander, who broke into the majors five years ago, has never been on the disabled list.
“Everyone’s different,” he said when asked about that in the wake of Harvey’s injury. “Hopefully, he’s back to 100 percent in no time.”
Meanwhile, Samardzija has six starts to improve on an 8-11, 4.03 performance that also includes a career-high 1761/3 innings — with renewed contract negotiations waiting at the finish line.
Samardzija, who’s going into his second winter of arbitration eligibility, turned down a club-friendly, five-year offer last fall, in part because he wanted the chance to prove his value over a full season in the rotation.
“No, it’s not a bargaining chip,” Samardzija said about the award and a possible similar finish to his season.
Nate Schierholtz, who turned his ankle, tweaked his back and got hit in the helmet by a throw on the same play Sunday, was back in right field Monday.
◆ Welington Castillo also was back in the lineup after catching all 15 innings Sunday in his return from a three-day break for his sore ribs.