The Jeff Samardzija rumors have been flying for quite some time, and will only increase over the next month leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31.
During an interview Wednesday on MLB Network Radio, Jeff Samardzija was asked if he wanted to stay with the Chicago Cubs.
“I don’t think there is any doubt how bad I want to stay here,” Samardzija told Jim Bowden and Casey Stern on Inside Pitch. “I have been here since the beginning. It’s the only organization I know. It’s pretty close to my hometown, I’m from Northwest Indiana. I am comfortable here. I love driving here every day coming to the park. I love the day games. I love Wrigley Field and I want to be here.”
“But obviously I understand this is a business and not everything is in your control,” Samardzija explained. “I understand that they have my rights for another year, year and a half and that’s exciting to have that and know I am in their control. I want to stay here. I love being here and it feels good. I love pitching here and my numbers finally are better at Wrigley this year than on the road and that’s a positive and you learn how to pitch here and the fans get to know you and it ends up being a really exciting atmosphere to play baseball at.”
Bruce Levine reported that Samardzija “had no idea if a new offer was presented to him or his agent last week” and Levine has not been able to confirm what the Cubs latest contract offer from the Cubs may or may not have been.
Jeff Samardzija spoke with Jim Bowden and Casey Stern during Inside Pitch (MLB Network Radio/SiriusXM Radio) Wednesday about a variety of topics, here are the highlights of the interview.
On how he deals with all of the distractions and still being able to pitch the way he has
“Well, I learned pretty early here in Chicago that there is always going to be some news and something to write about. I remember being the young guy and being on the outside and watching it. So now it’s kinda come full circle. You just kind of learn to put it aside and understand there is talk because that’s other people’s jobs and that is what they do, trying to find information and this and that. For me personally, I just kind of blocked myself away in this little bubble here at Wrigley and with this team. Just come in and do my work every day and pitch every fifth day and just kind of stay on that straight line and try and minimize the distractions and go out and understand if I do my job that everything will take care of itself.”
On areas he’s worked on improving in the way he pitches
“For me personally a lot of it had to do with just efficiency on the mound. I really felt like I had good numbers last year and I liked it. But my pitches were way up and at the end of the year I had thrown a lot of pitches. I worked a lot of hard innings. I just felt like at times I was exhausted after outings, you know striking a lot of guys out and throwing a lot of pitches. I really wanted to kind of save myself for the second half and be more efficient in the first half and early in the game. That meant using my sinker a little more over the plate and throw my off-speed in the zone instead of maybe trying to get strikeouts all the time. That was a big thing for me and just trying to get action from the hitters. I know they are sitting fastball because of my fastball and I just had to take advantage of that and give them pitches that look good but end up being not so good.”
On how much he wants to stay in Chicago and stay with the Cubs
“I don’t think there is any doubt how bad I want to stay here. I have been here since the beginning, it’s the only organization I know. It’s pretty close to my hometown, I’m from Northwest Indiana. I am comfortable here. I love driving here every day coming to the park. I love the day games. I love Wrigley Field and I want to be here. But obviously I understand this is a business and not everything is in your control. I understand that they have my rights for another year, year and a half and that’s exciting to have that and know I am in their control. I want to stay here. I love being here and it feels good. I love pitching here and my numbers finally are better at Wrigley this year than on the road and that’s a positive and you learn how to pitch here and the fans get to know you and it ends up being a really exciting atmosphere to play baseball at.”
On if the Cubs and Samardzija are close enough in the contract negotiations to where something could get done between him and the team
“I can’t really comment on that because I don’t know. Obviously I have an idea of where I’m at but obviously I informed my agent early in the year, or in Spring Training, that this wasn’t going to be a distraction for me. I had enough with debating arbitration and all of that and obviously the off-season speculation of signing a deal and at first I was sort of exhausted with talking about the process and I knew the season was getting closer and I didn’t want it to carry over into my performance on the field. My agent understands where we are at and I put that in their hands. Come October 1 or whenever the end of the season is then I will get more involved with it, but as of right now that’s what I pay him to do and my job is to go out and play baseball. Until there is something that needs to be talked about, you are talking to the wrong guy. You are probably better off talking to my agent on the more specifics. Because right now he understands where I am at with my mentality and where I want to be for the rest of this year.”
On what if he gets a phone call that he has been traded
“I feel like I am in a pretty good situation and that has kind of made this whole process a little bit easier on me. Knowing that either way the road goes I am going to be okay. I think that if it ends up happening and I do get traded, odds are it is going to be to a team in the hunt and they are ready to win now and that’s that. And if I stay, it’s even great too because I’ve been here. I’ve been a part of this rebuilding process and I will be here to see it end too, which is really exciting for me. I feel like I have put a lot of work in. Been through a lot with meeting new players, new coaches and being that liaison to the old guys to the new guys and that means a lot. I have put a lot of heart and soul into this team, not just on the field and on the mound and you would like to see all of that pay off, especially once we start playing like we expect to play here at Wrigley it will be exciting. My mind is a little bit at ease with knowing that both situations are, as an athlete and as a professional, pretty good situations.”
On the prospects that are on the way to the Cubs and the excitement of a lineup that could include Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Jim Bowden nicknaming Kris Bryant and Javier Baez the Killer B’s
“You kind of have me in a little different spot there. I am a type of guy that … yeah our prospects are great to have and it’s great to have this future promise and everything, but nothing is for sure. You say the Killer B’s, Biggio and Bagwell and those guys played for a long time; they were very successful at what they did. To put that already on them before they’ve seen a pitch in the big leagues is tough. We expect a lot out of them. We expect them to come and be impact players for sure, but with young guys you don’t know what you are going to get. They didn’t know what they were going to get out of me when I got called up. And I ended up having a great arm, but having no location and no idea of a sense of pitching whatsoever and it ended up taking me two or three years to get back to where I needed to be, which was big league competitive and capable of going out every day and doing a great job. We need guys that are ready to play in the big leagues and improve in it. And that is the best way to turn things around. Then you add those big time prospects into situations that they are comfortable in and the onus isn’t totally on them to create and do everything then their transition becomes easier when they are counting on other people’s shoulders and not just theirs. I think it is a healthy mix you have to have of bringing talent in and have a bigger system that creates that team that everybody strides for, every GM, every President. A team that comes out every day and takes the field and has a really, really good chance of winning.”
On winning a championship with the Cubs and what it would be like for the city
“Yeah, yeah, I was here for it obviously in ’07 and in ’08 that feeling was here. That buzz, that excitement of man, every day we go out we’re playing for a pennant and the fans were outstanding and really plugged into the game. You kind of lose that vacation fan, you know, and you replace that with the avid fan that knows every player and this and that and that just doesn’t come to the stadium to see Wrigley and the scoreboard, they are here to watch the team play. That’s what you want. You want to drive that excitement up and you do that by having players that are fun to watch and a team that is winning ballgames. The quicker we can do that … the biggest thing I’ve been saying is that just watch when we put together a nice 15-game streak together or one month streak together and watch how these fans turnout and what the atmosphere turns into. It is unbelievable it is unlike anywhere else and they are so hungry to win and so hungry to watch a winner. I just feel like it would snowball from there. I just here to kind of wait to catch that wave, you know, and I think it is coming. We have to stay positive and keep pushing and every one doing their work and it will turnaround faster than you think.”
Jeff Samardzija, along with Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, has a chance to represent the Cubs in the Mid-Summer Classic next month at Target Field in Minneapolis. Samardzija said he would like to participate in the game and play with the best in the game. And Samardzija has pitched like an All-Star for a majority of the season.
Casey Stern asked Samardzija how much he would mean to him to be on the NL All-Star team. “That is what you work for,” Samardzija said. “I would love to do that and love to attend and be a part of something so great. You want that respect from your peers.”