Will it be his last spring opener for the Cubs?
“You’re assuming (scouts) are there every game regardless of the situation,” Samardzija said after giving up two hits and a walk but no runs to the Arizona Diamondbacks. “You want to put on a good show for them.”
He laughed during that last thought as everyone, including Samardzija, knows he’s on the trade block until further notice. With negotiations on a long-term deal at an impasse for over a year he could be moved at any time. The most likely scenario still has it happening closer to the trade deadline in July.
“If anything it just puts a chip on your shoulder and makes you want to go out and prove yourself even more,” Samardzija said.
He has more to prove after his ERA ballooned to 4.34 in the second half last season. If he can, it makes him more valuable in all ways. In the offseason he was linked to potential trades with these Diamondbacks, the Washington Nationals, Toronto Blue Jays and Atlanta Braves among others. More than one of those teams had scouts in the stands for Game 1 of the spring.
But more than anything, Samardzija wants to win. A winning team may make him a better pitcher.
“We’re going head over heels for the season,” Samardzija stated. “Rick (Renteria) has made it clear we’re here to win, which I love. I love to hear him talk about his excitement for winning. Not development. Rick’s No. 1 goal is winning. Me and him are on the same page when it comes to that.”
Samardzija has never made any bones about it. He’s not exactly the patient type when it comes to the Cubs' long-running rebuilding plan. He understands it, but he doesn’t have to like it. He’s anxious to see the prospects play -- and not in the minors.
“Prospects are a shot in the dark,” he said. “I’m excited to watch these guys play in big league games and see what we’re going to get out of them in the near future. We need everyone that can play. ... We need hungry guys that have something to prove.”
Samardzija isn’t expecting a trade during the spring and really doesn’t want to think about what will happen in the coming months. If he proves himself worthy, maybe the Cubs give him the contract he wants. Otherwise, those scouts will keep showing up.
“I’ve only played for the Cubbies,” Samardzija said. “So I only know one team to play for and that’s here.”