GLENDALE, Ariz. – Spring training isn’t like it used to be for Jeff Samardzija, established top of the rotation starter and likely Opening Day guy for the White Sox,.
“A few years ago you worried about survival,’’ the 30-year-old Samardzija said.
“Now it’s almost pitch to pitch and batter to batter. It’s more fun. I enjoy pitching more now because it’s a game within a game. It’s not going out there and saying the Lord’s Prayer and throwing it up at the plate. We’re out there with a reason and a plan.’’
Samardzija made his second start of the spring Tuesday at Camelback Ranch – he has also started an intrasquad game and worked a simulated game this spring – pitching into the fifth inning against the Seattle Mariners. He gave up a homer to Logan Morrison and had a run charged to him because of a walk in the fifth.
Timing issues in his delivery and allowing catcher Tyler Flowers get to know his game better were among the things he tried to iron out. Aside from being in too many 1-0 counts, Samardzija was pleased overall. Perhaps the best thing? His arm feels great.
“I’ve had (good arm) this whole camp, which is exciting — knock on wood — avoiding that dead arm period,’’ he said. “And I’m trying to let it go, I’m trying to test myself and say where is that wall at.’’
When the Opening Day question came up – he’s lined up to start April 6 but hasn’t been announced – Samardzija danced around it.
“I think our opening day closer is going to be Robertson, that one is ironed out.,’’ he said.
“I care about 33 [starts]. That’s the most important thing. I’m going to get my 33 starts in the season any way, any how. Once you get those in then you get the real important ones, the 34th, 35th and 36 of the year which obviously are in the playoffs and ultimate that’s what it’s about, doing your job in first 33 and being prepped for that run in the fall.’’
Danish OK, relieved
Right-hander Tyler Danish was a bit shaken but should be OK after taking a liner off his right triceps Monday. The 20-year-old prospect knows it could have been much worse, the ball striking him that close to his pitching elbow.
“I went right into shock at first and was hoping nothing was broken because it got me good,” Danish, a 2013 second-round pick with a 1.92 ERA over two minor league seasons, said Tuesday.
Danish received treatment for a good part of the morning and is expected to be out of action a few days. He may return to minor league camp soon when the Sox make their first round of cuts. If so, his last memory won’t be all bad.
“That was the best I’ve thrown the ball all spring,’’ he said.
Some hits would be nice
Veteran utility men Emilio Bonifacio and Gordon Beckham and catcher Tyler Flowers aren’t getting many in Arizona. None of them are here for their offense, but each of them will need to do more when the real games begin. Bonifacio got his second hit, another double, in his 22nd at-bat. Beckham is 1-for-22 and Flowers (0-for-2, two strikeouts) is 2-for-19.
Predictably, manager Robin Ventura isn’t pushing a panic button, not with veteran players in March. “There’s a track record he’s got,’’ Ventura said of the versatile Bonifacio. “A lot of guys like to get hits in spring training, but you’re working through things, also facing guys that you’ve never seen before.’’
A lasting memory?
Outfielder Trayce Thompson hit a game-tying two-run homer in the eighth inning. An outfield prospect who is approaching a crossroads point in his career, Thompson could join a sizable group that goes back to minor league camp Wednesday. He would do so with a .412 spring to build on.
“He puts a lot of pressure on himself,’’ Ventura said. “He’s got a ton of talent, good kid, and I think he just needs to go out and play with the confidence that he should have. He can do everything on the field.’’
This and that
Jesse Crain will pitch in a minor league game Wednesday, his first game action of the spring as he attempts a comeback from triceps surgery.
*Nate Jones, who isn’t expected back till midseason as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, reports encouraging progress as he continues to play long toss.