Entries in Jeff Samardzija (4)


S.F. Examiner: After finally winning three straight, maybe the Giants are on to something

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

AT&T PARK — Maybe. That’s the only appropriate word. Maybe the Giants are about to play as everyone thought, as their manager Bruce Bochy conceded, to expectations. Maybe the breakout — their first three-game win streak of this so-far rotten season — is an indication.

Or maybe it’s just a tease.

Read the full story here.

©2017 The San Francisco Examiner 


S.F. Examiner: Graveman tops Samardzija in Bay Bridge Series warmup

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Exhibition games are baseball in reverse. “You get the starters their work,” said Bob Melvin, the A’s manager, “and then it’s time for the young guys to finish and get the win.”

Which is exactly what happened Monday for Oakland. Against the Giants

Read the full story here.

©2017 The San Francisco Examiner


Samardzija on Giants-Dodgers: It’s a rivalry for sure

By Art Spander

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — They were booing the announcement of the other team’s lineup. Before an exhibition game. Before what, in effect, is a workout, if with a lot of accoutrements. But it was the Dodgers, and for a sellout crowd of 12,127 at the Giants spring ballpark, that fact transcended everything else.

As one of new kids on the block, and on the mound, understood full well.

“It’s a rivalry for sure,” said Jeff Samardzija. “I love it.”

The majority of the fans at Scottsdale Stadium did not love the result, the Dodgers winning 5-2. It wasn’t a good day overall for the Bay Area against L.A., with the Lakers throttling the Warriors.

Of course, that one mattered, in the standings and in the records. This one mattered only for the emotions of the spectators. Not that they should be ignored.

When people are chanting “Beat L.A., Beat L.A.” in Arizona, in early March, one grasps the significance of what, other than the individual performances, is a contest of insignificance. Except for the people who buy the tickets and buy into the idea that beating the Dodgers makes their lives better.

“It’s to be expected,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. He didn’t need to add that the Giants and Dodgers have been facing each other since 1890 when the Giants were in one New York borough, upper Manhattan, and the Dodgers in another, Brooklyn. They’ve played more than 2,400 times, not including exhibitions.

“The booing, the fans, probably adds a little excitement for the players,” said Bochy.

As usual this time of year, Bochy doesn’t get too excited or depressed, other than for a serious injury. He was upbeat about Samardzija, in his second Cactus League start, going three innings, striking out five and allowing just one run. It’s what the Giants need from a man signed as a free agent for $90 million who is supposed to be No. 2 or No. 3 in the rotation.

If Giants relievers Clayton Blackburn, who was the loser, and Jake Smith each gave up two runs, well, nothing to be worried about. Even if it’s against the Dodgers.

The Giants' lineup was without Buster Posey, taking a day off, and Hunter Pence, who’s been out with soreness in an Achilles tendon but is supposed to be ready on Wednesday.

Brandon Crawford again was the designated hitter — even when two National League teams meet, the DH is in effect in the exhibition season — because of a sore throwing arm. He should be back at shortstop the middle of the week. Crawford’s swing is fine. He homered in the sixth.

The Dodgers' Yasiel Puig, who singled and drove in a run, was the main target of the derision. Giants fans simply do not like the man. And Chase Utley, who reportedly has won the appeal of a two-game suspension he received for taking out (and breaking the leg of) Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in the World Series, also was booed loudly.

“You’ve got two passionate fan bases,” said Samardzija, “and they’re going at each other more than the players are. That’s good.”

Although he’s new to the Giants, Samardzija is not new to rivalries. He pitched for the Cubs, who couldn’t escape the presence or success of the Cardinals. Before that, he played football for Notre Dame.

“It could be USC or Michigan,” said Samardzija. “Those were big games for us. We could have a down team or they could have a down team. It never really mattered. There was so much at stake.”

A wise man would say that virtually nothing is at stake in baseball during the first week in March, but when the opposing team has LA on its baseball caps, logic is secondary. Memories of Tommy Lasorda lording it at Candlestick Park remain, even with Lasorda retired and Candlestick destroyed.

For years, the Giants were the Dodgers' foils. As the lyrics went, paranoia strikes deep, into your life it will creep.

Giants fans cannot forget or apparently forgive.

“For the players, these games are just workouts,” said Samardzija. “But we have to understand the people take these games seriously. You don’t want to go out there and be too loose.”

To borrow from Samardzija’s thoughts, don’t we just love it?


Football made Samardzija appreciate baseball

By Art Spander

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — He was a football player, a very good one too, a receiver who set records at that most famous of football schools, Notre Dame. But Jeff Samardzija also played baseball, and he said perhaps the sport everyone thought he would choose as a pro provided the reason for the one he actually selected.

“Maybe playing football,” said Samardzija, “gave me an appreciation for pitching.”

He is a thinker, Samardzija, a fireballer. And Wednesday, in the Cactus League opener for the Giants, with whom last December he signed a $90 million, five-year contract, he did both, thinking and throwing.

Then, after the Giants’ 4-1 win over the Angels, Samardzija did a great deal of talking.

He threw 32 pitches in two innings, allowed a run and a hit, walked four.

Exactly as he would have wanted, a game in which he had to work, had to use his guile as well as his power.

“Trying not to do anything stupid,” said Samardzija, who didn’t.

An exhibition but hardly meaningless, at least not to Samardzija. Or to the Giants’ main man, Buster Posey, who insisted upon starting so he could get in synch with the new guy — and vice versa. An exhibition, but also an opportunity to learn.

“Buster is so cerebral,” said Samardzija. “He took the load off my shoulders. This was a great first day.”

Great because after four to five months of inactivity, the 31-year-old Samardzija was on a mound. And, in a way, on a soapbox. “I was OK putting the first guy on,” he said. “Even the second guy. I had to work out of something.”

Which he didn’t, since Angels catcher Carlos Perez, who led off with a double, eventually scored on a sacrifice fly after two walks. But Samardzija said he’ll get the ball down in the next game.

“I didn’t mind the first walk,” he said. “Didn’t want to walk the second one. Like pitching in the late innings, I had work out a situation there. It was good to get this one out of the way.”

Spring baseball is viewed differently from the dugout or clubhouse than it is from the stands, where more than 8,000 were crowded, dining, drinking, laughing and, when San Francisco got a home run from Conor Gillaspie in the third and then three fours in the sixth, cheering. 

When someone told Posey, who had one swing, one single and two innings behind the plate, that Samardzija wasn’t “just going through the motions,” Buster was happy. “Glad to hear him say that,” offered Posey of Samardzija. “Otherwise it’s a waste of time.”

Posey had faced Samardzija infrequently when Jeff was with the Cubs, Athletics and White Sox. The Cubs, who sent him to Oakland for young shortstop Addison Russell, tried to sign him again as a free agent last winter, but Samardzija decided on the Giants.

He spoke of the great charge-and-throw defensive play made by Kelby Tomlinson on the Angels with runners on in the top of the second. Tomlinson was at short, in place of All-Star Brandon Crawford, who was the Giants’ designated hitter. And Tomlinson is a second baseman, although he was a shortstop in this game.

“It’s not a coincidence they have a guy like Tomlinson who can step in,” said Samardzija. “That’s because of the organization. You understand why they’ve won.”

Samardzija didn’t dislike football. He simply enjoys the day-to-day pace of baseball. In football, he said, there’s a week between games. In baseball, there’s 24 hours.

Some time ago, in the late 1950s, Pat Richter was a multi-sport letterman for the University of Wisconsin and faced the same choice as Samardzija. The general manager of the Dodgers, trying to persuade Richter to sign with them, reportedly asked him, “What do you want, kid? A bonus or a limp?” Richter went to the NFL.

Unlike Samardzija.

“I love baseball,” said Samardzija. “I like talking about it. I like playing it.”

Assuming he plays it well, the Giants will love Samardzija. Maybe they already do.