Samardzija expected to start spring opener

February, 21, 2014
Feb 21
3:45
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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MESA, Ariz. -- Jeff Samardzija is in line to start the Chicago Cubs' Cactus League opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Feb. 27 at their new spring stadium, manager Rick Renteria said on Friday.

[+] EnlargeJeff Samardzija
AP Photo/Matt YorkJeff Samardzija is expected to get the call in the Cubs' Cactus League opener.
Samardzija started the Cubs' season opener last year, but Renteria hasn't announced his March 31 starter against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He says the entire rotation could come down to who is ready.

"Depends how it ends up panning out in terms of their prep," Renteria said. "If it happens to match up better for us one way or another obviously we'll want to do something like that but we'll see how it all falls into place in terms of conditioning of their time here."

Renteria did not announce the spring rotation after Samardzija.

Schierholtz sent home: Outfielders Nate Schierholtz and Junior Lake collided during outfield drills on Friday, ending Schierholtz's day early.

"They were both calling for it," Renteria said. "Junior may have gotten him on the backside. You're talking about two strong men."

Renteria said Schierholtz was checked out by the training staff and should be fine, although he was sent home early.

McDonald more ready than ever: Former Pirates pitcher James McDonald is trying to win a starting spot after signing with the Cubs late in the offseason.

"It's a good opportunity and they had interest in me," McDonald said. "I came out here right after the season and started working out."

The right-hander started only six games last season because of shoulder problems.

"Last year opened my eyes up," he said. "I wasn't prepared the way I should have been. Wasn't as strong as I should have been. Started right away this offseason. Last year was good for me. It opened my eyes up. This is the most prepared I am in spring."

McDonald is 32-30 with a 4.20 ERA over the course of six years with Los Angeles and Pittsburgh.

• Pitcher Jake Arrieta will play long toss on Saturday as he recovers from shoulder stiffness he experienced during the offseason. He says he could throw off a mound in his next throwing session.

• Javier Baez belted a long home run to center field that hit a car parked just outside the park during batting practice on Friday. Baez is known for putting a show during BP, something he did last spring as well.

Jesse Rogers | email

Chicago Cubs beat reporter
Jesse joined ESPN Chicago in September 2009 and covers the Chicago Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Jake Arrieta
WINS ERA SO IP
10 2.53 167 156
OTHER LEADERS
BAS. Castro .292
HRA. Rizzo 32
RBIA. Rizzo 78
RA. Rizzo 89
OPSA. Rizzo .913
ERAT. Wood 5.03
SOJ. Arrieta 167