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Jeff Samardzija may be starter option for Cubs

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

HOUSTON — If the Cubs stay with the in-house ­options the next week when they need a fifth starter again, Jeff Samardzija figures to be one of the top guys on that list — whether they like it or not.

‘‘I would like that not to be an option,’’ manager Mike Quade said. ‘‘We made a commitment [to the right-hander being exclusively a reliever]. He’s most likely to be effective out of the bullpen. .  .  . But for a week from now, it’s all hands on deck, and he’ll do whatever we need. Everything is on the table.’’

Committing Samardzija to one role was especially important this season for the organization because ­after shuttling between roles for three years, he’s now out of options and at a make-or-break crossroads with the team.

But by following James Russell’s 55-pitch start with a 54-pitch outing that got him through three innings Tuesday night, Samardzija has pitched himself into the middle of the conversation for next Tuesday against San Diego. Which is fine with him.

‘‘That’d be great,’’ said Samardzija, who has five big-league starts and 86 in the minors. ‘‘I feel all my pitches are there. For me, it’s all about attacking the hitters and keeping the pitch count down. I thought I did that [Tuesday], thought I made some really good pitches.’’

In his previous outing, Samardzija walked four in a relief inning in Milwaukee on Saturday. But he said mechanics work has him in better form. And ready for whatever Quade wants.

Quade said he figured to start looking more at his options during today’s scheduled day off and Friday in Colorado.

Recently signed veteran Ramon Ortiz, who pitched 52/3 effective innings for Class AAA Iowa on Monday, could be a significant option, or possibly another go-round with Russell.

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