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Samardzija feeling good before Saturday return

MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Jeff Samardzija feels normal again. Everything from the self-described "normal soreness" in his right arm to the familiar foe in San Francisco this weekend has the right-hander confident for his start on Saturday.

"I'm having a good feel for all the pitches, stretch and windup," Samardzija said. "We're going to go out and have a normal day on Saturday."

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Jeff Samardzija feels normal again. Everything from the self-described "normal soreness" in his right arm to the familiar foe in San Francisco this weekend has the right-hander confident for his start on Saturday.

"I'm having a good feel for all the pitches, stretch and windup," Samardzija said. "We're going to go out and have a normal day on Saturday."

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It will be Samardzija's first game back since sustaining tightness in his right shoulder in an outing May 29. He also spent the first three weeks of the season on the disabled list with a strained right pectoral muscle.

"Last time was my first time ever having to deal with anything like that," Samardzija said of his first DL stint this season. "I've usually willed my way through most little injuries and pains. I thought that one with a little break would be fine, but it ended up being an uphill battle the whole time."

Samardzija made eight starts across April and May before returning to the DL for the entire month of June.

"The way it's been going the last four or five times out, I can tell you it's a lot different than it was the first time after the rehab starts," Samardzija said. "That's what's encouraging, is that the recovery is quick and normal."

After throwing 90 pitches in his fourth rehab outing for Triple-A Sacramento on Monday -- he allowed two runs in six frames -- Samardzija's outing on Saturday against the Cardinals (13th career start) will come on five days' rest and with little limitation.

"Johnny [Cueto] we have to watch a little closer than Jeff," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

Samardzija echoed Bochy's sentiments.

"I don't think there's any limit," Samardzija said. "Both times I threw 90, I was ready to keep going and they stopped it there. I felt good."

Smith set to play crucial role moving forward
With a 1.11 ERA and an 0.70 WHIP, Will Smith has been a metronome of consistency for a team with inscrutable home and road splits. He also converted the Giants' last two save opportunities, a role he figures to see more of this season.

"I don't think he could pitch the ninth," Bochy said when asked about using Smith in the closer role. "I'd say he can and will pitch the ninth. He's one of the guys we use there in that spot. I have no problem pitching Will there."

Starting rotation beginning to shape
Johnny Cueto's return to the rotation on Thursday spelled Derek Holland's shift to the bullpen. With Samardzija set to return Saturday, another move is imminent.

"We haven't made a call yet, but somebody else will probably help us out in the bullpen," Bochy said. "[Ty] Blach went Opening Day for us and now he's helping us out in the 'pen. It's all about everybody wanting the same thing and helping out in different ways."

Bochy will likely make a decision between Chris Stratton or rookies Andrew Suarez and Dereck Rodriguez.

"They're doing what you want them to do," Bochy said. "That makes these decisions tough."

The Giants released right-hander Roberto Gomez to make room for Cueto, and they optioned infielder Kelby Tomlinson to Triple-A.

Martin Oppegaard is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area.

San Francisco Giants, Jeff Samardzija