The Cubs Need More Jeff Samardzijas, Not Less and Other News from Spring Training

Theo Epstein would like Jeff Samardzija to stay with the Cubs. Jed Hoyer reiterated this week the Cubs need more Jeff Samardzijas on the team, not less. And Jeff Samardzija would like to stay with the team he has a lot invested in. But the two sides remain apart on a long term extension for the 29-year old right hander.

While Rick Renteria could wait until the middle of the month before he names his Opening Day starter, Jeff Samardzija is preparing to take the ball in Pittsburgh for the Cubs on March 31. Samardzija has talked about his future with the Cubs on numerous occasions since pitchers and catchers reported to Cubs Park last month. And Jed Hoyer said Thursday that trade talks for Samardzija are on the back burner because both sides have interest in getting a deal done.

CubsMesaLogo-pub“I’ve always stated this is where I want to be,” Samardzija told MLB Network Radio. “I grew up around Chicago. The team that drafted me. They’ve shown me a lot of confidence, especially early in my career when I was on a rocky road and up and down from Triple-A to the big leagues. This organization has stuck by me and they’ve given me an opportunity to be a starter and I tried not to waste that opportunity. And really just give back for everything they’ve shown me. So, there’s obviously been a mutual interest between the two parties for sure, which is a great place. It kind of makes everything else just talking, which is what you want it to be. You just want to avoid those heated arguments and this and that. So, I am happy with where everything is at right now. I am excited for the season to start. And really, like I said before, prove to these guys and show them without a benefit of a doubt, like what you said, ‘Hey we need this guy here and we need him here to help out other guys and really establish this core and grow from it.’ So, I am really excited and as long as I go out and do my job and do it well, everything is sure to take care of itself.”

Jeff Samardzija views himself as a top of the rotation starter and wants to prove that is what he is this season. He would like to be the pitcher the Cubs give the ball to when the team is playing ball in October again.

During an interview on ESPN 1000, Samardzija said he does not believe he is in the prime years of his career yet. He feels he is still getting better and he has a lot to improve on. Samardzija is willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win ballgames.

“The guys that have been around for a little bit are not looking to the future,” Samardzija said. “We understand you cannot take anything for granted in this game. Two or three years from now is not guaranteed, but what is guaranteed is this season.” He believes that if everyone does their job, the team can turn things around quicker than most think. The players are trying to take a positive attitude and work hard every day.

Jeff Samardzija said the players in the clubhouse plan on competing this season and feel the key is to the year is getting off to a hot start. Listening to players like Jeff Samardzija and Anthony Rizzo talk, the players are tired of losing baseball games. And it is safe to say, the players are not the only ones tired of the losing.

Jeff Samardzija on Welington Castillo

Jim Bowden asked Jeff Samardzija how Welington Castillo is progressing as a catcher. Samardzija said, “Wely is doing great. I think anytime with a young catcher, I think the most important thing is experience, you know. He mentally has it and physically he has it. He has all of the tools. Now it is just about being behind the plate and watching Tulowitzki hit 10-15 times. Watching Gonzalez hit 10-15 times. All of these veteran catchers that you look to as star guys they’ve done that. They’ve caught in the league for years and they’ve seen these guys hit 20-30 times. And Wely is going to get there too. So every year he gets to see these guys more he is going to grow and get smarter and in turn be on the same page with us because he has caught us so much too. We are excited about Wely and really looking to get a full pull out of him for the season.”

Javier Baez

According to multiple reports, Rick Renteria addressed the team’s plan for Javier Baez seeing time at second and third base this spring.

Renteria reiterated that Baez will begin the season as Iowa’s shortstop. The plan for Baez is to leave him at shortstop until there is a need for him to change positions. The Cubs do not plan on Baez moving around the diamond at the onset of the season.

Javier Baez has been working at second and third base during practice and will see time at those positions in Cactus League games soon. Baez recently said he prefers second over third base if he is not at short.

Before Spring Training started, Jason McLeod said moving Baez to second base would seem to be a good fit. Baez is used to playing in the middle of the field and when he moved to second base last spring during an exhibition game he took to the position according to McLeod.

News and Notes

According to a report from the Tribune, Jake Arrieta seems to be “resigned to not being ready when the season starts.” Arrieta acknowledged there is no reason to rush the process just to be ready by Opening Day and risk a setback that could cost him more of the season. Arrieta completed his second bullpen session Thursday.

James Russell is scheduled to throw his first bullpen Friday and could appear in a Cactus League game next week according to multiple reports Thursday.

Ken Rosenthal reported Thursday what has been previously reported for several months. “Ideally, the Cubs would love for Mike Olt to win their third base job rather than return to Triple-A.” The Cubs have third base slotted throughout the system with Christian Villanueva (Iowa), Kris Bryant (Tennessee) and Jeimer Candelario (Daytona). Olt is expected to play third base in the coming days.

Rick Renteria likes the way Jorge Soler has conducted himself this spring. According to a report from Patrick Mooney, after all the hype, Soler is trying to find his game.

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Quote of the Day

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