Caught between NL and AL, Jeff Samardzija just watches
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter July 15, 2014 10:56PM
Updated: July 16, 2014 12:14AM
MINNEAPOLIS — Jeff Samardzija still has a lot of Cub in him, so waiting till next year shouldn’t be an issue.
The odd (Cubby?) occurrence of pitching like an All-Star for the Cubs despite winning only two games, only to be traded to the Oakland Athletics of the American League, prevented him from pitching in the All-Star Game. He participated and dressed like everyone else, much like an injured All-Star would. His news conference time Monday was spent on the National League side, and he was in the NL clubhouse and uniform during batting practice Tuesday. He thanked the players and manager Mike Matheny for their roles in getting him on the team, but he planned to spend the game in the AL dugout.
‘‘I don’t want this to be a big deal,’’ Samardzija said. ‘‘For me, if this becomes a big deal and a distraction, then it takes away from the week for me. You chalk it up as unfortunate timing, and I enjoy being here with all the guys and seeing how it goes and give me a little taste of it, and it gives me a reason to work a little harder and get back here next year and actually pitch at the game.’’
It’s tough to feel too sorry for the Shark. He is, after all, on his way to a postseason run with the A’s and putting life as a Cub in his rearview mirror after he was dealt in a blockbuster deal the Cubs believe bodes well for their future. The A’s, meanwhile, feel great about adding an All-Star to their rotation.
Samardzija did seem like the little lost orphan in the bunch who didn’t know quite where he belonged.
‘‘I don’t blame him,’’ Cubs All-Star Anthony Rizzo said. ‘‘National League All-Star and best team in baseball in the American League. It’s well-deserved. I hope he enjoys it.’’
From the sound of it, he did.
‘‘This is my first one,’’ he said, ‘‘so I’m completely stoked to be here and happy to see all these guys I competed against for so many years and, at the same time, go into the AL dugout and get to meet all these guys I’m going to compete against for the rest of the season. Definitely a different experience, but I’m going to enjoy it for sure.’’
That he was destined to leave Chicago was almost a given since last season.
‘‘There was a lot of talk about it from last July on,’’ he said. ‘‘It became kind of a moot point for me because I was giving the same answer all the time --- I didn’t know anything.
‘‘Since it’s been done, it has been more about dealing with moving my sofa and my dog and my car and ending my lease and picking up a new lease and driving halfway across the country. So there’s other issues that come with it, but ultimately it comes down to baseball.’’