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Levine: Samardzija Works Toward Opening Day Assignment

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Jeff Samardzija. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Jeff Samardzija. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Bruce Levine Bruce Levine
Bruce Levine covers both the Cubs and the White Sox for CBSChicago.co...
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By Bruce Levine-

SURPRISE, Ariz. (CBS) — After his outing against Kansas City, Jeff Samardzija will have two more Cactus league starts on March 20 and March 25. The 29-year-old pitcher built his pitch count up against a KC lineup that included 6 starting players.

“The plan is to get up into the nineties next time out and then back off to 50 or 60 in the last one,” Samardzija said, who admitted to fastball command issues.

The Cubs opening day starter settled down after surrendering a lead off home run to Jarrod Dyson in the first inning. He went unscathed until the third when Dyson led off with a walk, followed by Johnny Giavotella’s first home run of the spring. Samardzija worked out of a bases loaded jam by getting Mike Moustakas to pop out to center field.

“There are moments in the game when you have to hunker down and ramp it up,” said the Cub starter. “I thought I did that today I got hurt up in the zone with fastballs..”

With two outs in the fourth Samardzija was removed, having hit his pitch count (87) for the day.

“I got my pitch count up,” Samardjzija kidded. “Hey they they came out swinging the bats and kind of put me back on my heels. I learned from that and adjust.”

The Cubs ace has had two great outings pitched against him the last two times out.

“My last two outings I had to watch Cain throw a five inning perfect game and Shields strikeout 17 in four innings,” he mused. “It is fun to watch a guy like that. He is a top of the line guy. Watching him and all of his pitches were down in the zone. he looked (really) good out there today.”

Dyson’s homer was on a cut fastball, Giavotell hit a four seam fastball. “We have a date on the calender (opening day) and work towards it,” the pitcher said. “I feel good and will get ready.”

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