Jeff Samardzija, like everyone else, awaiting official word on White Sox Opening Day starter
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GLENDALE, Ariz. — Jeff Samardzija says he still hasn’t been told if he’s the Opening Day starter for the White Sox, but he downplayed the significance of knowing in advance.
“No, I just need to know the day of,” Samardzija said Tuesday. “Some of my best starts were when I showed up and they said you’re pitching today. It doesn’t really matter to me. Probably the less time you get the better, that way the less time you stay in bed thinking about it and staying up all night.”
Jose Quintana said he expects to pitch in the second game when the Sox open the season in Kansas City on April 6 (the second game is April 8 after an off day), leaving Samardzija — who is lined up on his pitching days here — as the likely choice. He started the last two openers for the Cubs, throwing a combined 15 innings of scoreless ball against the Pirates in Pittsburgh.
“It’s a little different because it’s the first one, right?” Samardzija said. “You’re not in midseason form but the spotlight is so bright you need to be in midseason form, so in that sense it’s a little weird.”
Another run of scoreless ball, against the defending AL champions, would be nice.
“You see teams get in trouble when it doesn’t work out early,” Samardzija said. “The last thing you want is your bullpen getting used early in the year. As a starting pitcher I want those guys to be fresh in july, august and September if they need to pick up any innings to do it then, not at the start. The best shape I can be at the start will help the team exponentially as it goes on.”
Samardzija’s next Cactus League start is Friday against the Cubs. He gave up three homers in his last start Sunday against the Brewers and downplayed their significance. The dry Arizona air is sometimes not conducive for breaking pitches.
“That’s why I take things with a grain of salt out here,” he said. “I know my splitter and my slider won’t be what they are out here in the dry air. I want the action of the pitch and the spin to look good and I want the splitter to be down. I understand it wont have that full drop but as long as it’s down in the zone and I’m throwing it where I want it to be.
“I’m happy because when you get up north in the humidity those things start to dance a little more. For me it’s getting that arm strength and making sure all those pitches are there in the bullpen for the year.”