Jeff Samardzija endures another woeful outing
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org June 27, 2012 9:14PM
Jeff Samardzija delivers a pitch. The Chicago Cubs host the New York Mets at Wrigley Field on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 in Chicago. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times
Updated: July 29, 2012 5:16PM
As one presumed franchise building block stepped into his new role for the Cubs this week, another took another step back.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned a little bit with the numbers and execution of pitches,’’ said manager Dale Sveum after Jeff Samardzija’s fourth consecutive rough start — a 17-1 loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday.
Samardzija (5-7) walked four and gave up nine runs — six on a pair of home runs — in just 41/3 innings. It made him 0-4 with a 12.27 ERA in his last four starts — after a 3-2, 2.26 run over his previous eight.
Sveum suggested the problem could be anything from mechanics to confidence to the first-year full-time starter hitting a mid-season wall — “or could be all of the above,’’ he said.
Sveum said he has no immediate plans of taking Samardzija out of the rotation. “We have a plan and when things go awry for a few starts you obviously don’t just jump the gun.’’
Said Samardzija: “It’s more mental than physical for me right now. My body feels great.’’
Pitching coach Chris Bosio still considers Samardzija a “special’’ pitcher in he mold of a Chris Carpenter.
Samardzija seemed chapped at the loss and the idea of letting down teammates but also pointed to the bigger picture — one that eventually involves him as part of a core with newly installed first baseman Anthony Rizzo and shortstop Starlin Castro.
“I want to be a very huge part of this,’’ he said. “I’m not as young as those guys are, but I still have a fair amount to learn, and I’m learning right now. But in professional sports you’ve got to win right now, and you’ve got to put results up now. This isn’t a two-year plan for me or a year plan. This is a four-day plan. When I come out the next time [Monday], it’s got to be better, and it’s going to be better.’’
As his command struggles mount, the Cubs designated right-hander Randy Wells for assignment and promoted Rafael Dolis from Class AAA Iowa to join the bullpen.
The DFA move, often used to get rid of a player, is being used to free up a 40-man roster spot for the imminent completion of the nine-year, $30-million deal struck earlier this month with Cuban free agent Jorge Soler.
The Cubs plan to send Wells back to Iowa when and if he clears waivers, which is expected given his $2.705 million salary.
“The walks are killing him. He’s got to go down there and get better at that,’’ Sveum said, referring to Wells’ 24 walks in 282/3 innings.
With Ryan Dempster (lat muscle) not expected to be ready to return from the DL in time, Sveum will next need a starter for the Dempster/Wells slot on Tuesday, with Chris Volstad looking like a possibility.
◆ The Cubs fell to 4-17 against left-handed starters and face two more (J.A. Happ, Wandy Rodriguez) during the upcoming three-game series against visiting Houston.