MESA, Ariz. — Jeff Samardzija was good at times and bad at others — four times to be precise — in his second-to-last tuneup before his Opening Day start for the White Sox.
The Sox right-hander struck out nine and allowed no walks. But his homer total for the spring climbed to eight after Jorge Soler, Chris Coghlan, Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo all took him deep. He gave up six runs on seven hits over six innings in a 92-pitch workday.
Here’s what he had to say after his outing against his former team:
“I think we’re seeing a little feast or famine out of the Cubbies this year,” said Samardzija, who was drafted by the Cubs and with them his entire career until they traded him to Oakland last season. “They don’t get cheated. It was fun to pitch against them, a little weird.”
Samardzija had allowed seven homers in his last two games. The Brewers got him for three long balls, which he downplayed afterward.
“But I felt good out there, and as the game went on, I felt a lot better than the first inning,” he said Friday. “I got the ball down in the zone. When the ball is flying out of the park, a lot of times that’s what it is. When you’re swinging that hard, if it’s up in the zone, they’re going to get it.”
Tyler Flowers hit his second homer of the spring against Jason Hammel and Melky Cabrera connected in the ninth inning against Hector Rondon for his first Cactus League homer.
Hammel gave up two runs over six innings.
Samardzija downplayed the significance of Cactus League games. But it’s getting closer to the opener, so he knows he it’s time to turn it up a notch.
“I think it’s a game you have to look at on film. The majority of pitches were good pitches and located where you want them,” he said. “But I think you can see in a big-league game, when you make mistakes, big-league hitters jump on them. But again, we’re out there getting our work in. We’ve got 92 pitches, pitched through the sixth, and I feel good and ready to go.
“I thought early I was cutting myself off a little early and the ball was running. Again, I chalk that up to spring training. You’re not in your pregame routine. I like to get a good hour, hour and a half in before the game starts, but we’re down here in the dungeon, so it’s kind of just go out and throw. Again, you have to take everything with a grain of salt, good or bad. When it’s that good, there are still things to get better, and when it’s not that good, it’s usually not that bad. I’m happy with how the game went on. I pitched deep in the game, and we’ll learn from it.”