By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The short marriage between right-hander Jeff Samardzija and the Chicago White Sox in 2015 was a train wreck from beginning.
“I just never got off to the right situation for me last year,” said Samardzija, who now pitches for the Giants and joined Inside the Clubhouse on 670 The Score over the weekend. “From the beginning, I was pressing. I was uncomfortable the whole time. That stayed the same way through the whole year. It had nothing to do with the people around me. You hopefully learn from those mistakes.”
With free agency looming after the 2015 season, a new wife and a baby on the way, Samardzija was acquired by the White Sox in December 2014 in a deal with the Athletics, the second time he’d been traded in four months. He admitted he was out of sorts the entire 2015 season, when he went 11-13 with a 4.96 ERA for Chicago and gave up the most hits of any pitcher in baseball.
This past offseason, the 31-year-old Samardzija signed a five-year, $90-million deal with San Francisco. Samardzija is 11-9 with a 4.06 ERA and 1.22 WHIP this season.
Samardzija took full responsibility for his actions and relationship with White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper. The Cooper/Samardzija dynamic was never well-defined, and Cooper said this winter that one of his biggest disappointments as a coach was his inability to help Samardzija be more consistent during his time with the White Sox.
“The caring about the process was never the issue between me and Coop,” Samardzija said. “Me and Don are very similar. We work through things mentally. We both have a lot to say on certain things and have strong opinions. In this case, sometimes, you can care too much. We both wanted it to work, and we probably made too many adjustments.”
Samardzija blamed only himself for not dealing with some external pressures that surrounded the 2015 campaign.
“Once you start getting traded around, moving homes and your family, it all happens fast,” he said. “I didn’t ever get comfortable with anything last year. You can’t force this game. I did not do well with that last year. I kept making the same mistakes and pitching to the heart of the plate. You can’t do that in the American League. I needed an offseason to regroup and gain some stability.”
Going back to 2014, the Cubs were talking to the Samardzija camp about a long-term deal before he was traded with Jason Hammel to the Athletics in a deal that netted them All-Star shortstop Addison Russell. The story was floated that Samardzija had turned down a 5-year, $75-million contract offer from the Cubs before the trade was finalized.
True or false ?
“We talked about a deal, for sure,” he said. “We really never got to the area of exchanging numbers. The $75 million was causally talked about, nothing close on paper or anything like that. We just didn’t match up. Times were different for the Cubs and myself.”
Samardzija had high praise for the Cubs organization and how his career has played out.
“I don’t have any regrets,” Samardzija said.
“Wrigley is a special place, and I am lucky to have a great park, fan base and organization in San Francisco to play for. There are only a handful of places that are this special out there.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.