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Uncle Lou wants to see more sliders

5/7/2009

You might have missed the Cubs' slight bullpen adjustment yesterday ...

    A day after manager Lou Piniella stressed the need for Jeff Samardzija to develop more pitches to set up his fastball, the Cubs returned the young right-hander to Class AAA Iowa today and summoned veteran reliever Chad Fox.
    Samardzija, 24, allowed one run, two hits and a walk in one-third of an inning Tuesday against the Giants, pushing his ERA to 8.10. After the outing, Piniella broached the subject of Samardzija's struggles.

    "He needs to work on his second and third pitches," Piniella said of the former Notre Dame wide receiver. "It's hard to pitch up here with a fastball only.

    "You have to get people off your fastball, whether it's Samardzija or anybody else," Piniella said. "Any pitcher at the big-league level needs to have a second and third pitch that they can rely on and get people off the other pitches. You have to throw awfully hard and locate the ball awfully well just to count on one pitch being your dominant pitch."

    Fox, 38, went 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA and two saves in 11 relief appearances for Iowa this season. He has held opponents to a .211 batting average, striking out 10 and walking three.

I completely get it. Fox was pretty good eight years ago, and Samardzija did get his three-innings audition. I mean, not counting last season when he posted a 2.28 ERA and struck out 25 in 28 innings. Sure, Samardzija was sort of overpowering (as a starter) in Triple-A last season, even with the fastball only. He did pretty well there earlier this spring, too. But no, I'm sure someone saw plenty in those three innings with the big club to make a decision like this. Sometimes you have to forget about the mountain of evidence piled under your nose, and just go with your gut.
I get it. Completely.