Struggling Jeff Samardzija downplays outside pressures
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter August 10, 2013 11:00PM
Updated: September 12, 2013 6:55AM
ST. LOUIS — Sure, outside influences are in play with all the recent noise about trade talks and upcoming contract negotiations, but Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija doesn’t believe it has anything to do with his worst career start Thursday or any of the rough spots he’s faced in the last month.
“I put more pressure on myself to do well than any outside force, whether it’s contract talk, personal issues or expectations from family and friends,” he said. “Do things on the outside add to it? Yeah. But the percentage of what those are compared to what I put on myself isn’t even close.”
General manager Jed Hoyer on Friday suggested Samardzija might be pressing during a rough stretch the last five weeks. Samardzija said he believes he is fine overall, and it looks worse than it is because of two bad starts against the Angels and Phillies (eight innings, 18 earned runs combined).
But there does seem to be at least one potential disconnect between the parties that could be making a difference in Samardzija’s outlook. Samardzija, who turned down a club-friendly extension offer last offseason, says: “It’s not on my mind. I have two years of club control left. I’m not going anywhere.”
But the club has made it clear over the last month that the clock will be ticking on negotiations this time around. If a deal can’t be reached, Samardzija will be viewed similarly to Matt Garza in 2012 — as a potential sell-high trading chip with a year left of club control at the July trading deadline.
“I’m not making the decision on that. I don’t know when you sell high, when you sell low,” Samardzija said. “I’ve never done that. I’ve never even played fantasy baseball.
“As far as I’ve heard, I’m their guy and they love having me here and they want me here.”
Nobody in the organization disputes that.
“Whatever they’re talking — a year, two years,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m club-controlled for two years, and they have me. That’s really all there is to it.
“I’m just looking to pitch and finish strong. I have nine starts left in this season, and I’m going to bust my butt to do well in them. All those things will take care of themselves. So we’ll see.”
Dioner Navarro not only avoided the DL, but the catcher who got run over by Chase Utley on Wednesday night, returned Saturday from an exam in Chicago, came off the bench in the eighth and drove in the go-ahead run.
◆ Catcher J.C. Boscan, who was called up from AAA Iowa on Friday with Navarro facing a possible DL move, was optioned back to Iowa. Outfielder Darnell McDonald was called up to take his spot on the bench instead (with outfielder Thomas Neal transferred to the 60-day DL to make room).