Samardzija returns to Wrigley with White Sox
Former Cubs righty won't start during series; values chance to have played for both teams
CHICAGO -- Jeff Samardzija was talking to his wife the other night about a career path that allowed the right-hander from Merrillville, Ind., to be a part of both the Cubs' and the White Sox pitching staff during his career.
"If you had told 12-year-old me that this would happen, I probably would have laughed at you and just kind of pushed it away," said Samardzija, speaking in the Wrigley Field visitors' dugout prior to Friday's game. "It's pretty crazy.
"I don't usually look at things at the moment. You wait until it's said and done to look back. Down the road, I'll look back on it. By the time I'm 30, to play for both teams is pretty cool."
Samardzija did not get a chance to make his first start at Wrigley Field as part of the visiting team. His final first-half trip to the mound for the White Sox came on Thursday at U.S. Cellular Field, when Samardzija shut out the Blue Jays.
But Samardzija did take in the cramped quarters of the visitors' clubhouse at Wrigley, and he used an old-school sort of approach to analyze that particular moment.
"I've heard a lot about it," said a smiling Samardzija. "It's cool, though. Unfortunately, it's lost on everyone now, right?
"Everybody, all the young players, the new owners and this and that, want new, new, new. So it's always fun when you're here. It just takes you back. It's been the same as it's always been. It reminds you of a time when players weren't pampered with spas and saunas and things like that."
After a slow start in his inaugural White Sox campaign, Samardzija pretty much has hit full stride over the last 10 appearances. He has worked at least seven innings in 10 of his last 11 starts, and eight of those have been quality starts.
Improved location and an adjustment in the way in which Samardzija was attacking hitters stand as key positive elements as the season has progressed, with Samardzija getting more comfortable in the American League. He also has added a more pronounced turn in his delivery, a turn that he said can change from start to start.
"My delivery, it's mobile. It changes all the time," Samardzija said. "I care more about how the pitch is coming out of my hand, and any way that I can get my pitches to do what I want them to do to the glove, then we'll make that adjustment. Sometimes it's a change, and sometimes it's just continuing to do what you've been doing."
There's almost no chance of Samardzija appearing over these three games at Wrigley, unless he's used a pinch-runner or pinch-hitter. There's no doubt 12-year-old Samardzija and 30-year-old Samardzija would have liked to face the team for which he pitched for seven years.
"It would have been a blast, for sure," Samardzija said. "But the good thing about our rotation is it doesn't matter who we throw out there, we have a pretty darn good chance of winning that game. You can't really pick and choose where you get to pitch. To say one game is more important than the other, the baseball gods will get you for that."