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Jeff Samardzija has made 46 appearances in the major leagues the past two seasons, two of them were starts. The 25-year-old Chicago Cubs' right-hander hopes that changes this season.
With the fifth spot in the starting rotation open and another available while Ted Lilly recovers from shoulder surgery, the former No. 1 draft pick should have plenty of opportunity to begin the season as a starter.
"I want to be a starter," Samardzija said Thursday on "The Afternoon Saloon" on ESPN 1000. "April is one thing, but August and September are a little bit different. I feel like I can help this team as a starter for sure. I can pitch deep into games, I'm a young guy, my arm is young so all those things play into my favor. Obviously, it comes down to the team and where everybody fits, if we need another righty in the pen or do we need a setup guy. Time will tell but my first inclination is to be a starter."
After having immediate success out of the bullpen as a rookie in 2008 (2.28 earned-run average in 27 2/3 innings), Samardzija struggled last season, posting a 7.53 ERA in 20 games.
Among Samardzija's competition will be right-hander Carlos Silva, acquired in the Milton Bradley trade, and left-handers Sean Marshall and Tom Gorzelanny.
"It's spring training. That's what we're here for, to figure out who goes where," Samardzija said. "My arm feels great, my body feels great, just hopefully we can get off to a strong start. I think that's what it's all about and really show [manager] Lou [Piniella] that every fifth day he can hand me that ball and be happy with what's going on on the field."