By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The last two starts have been a nightmare for White Sox right-hander Jeff Samardzija and the team’s coaching staff, as he’s gone through a rough patch in allowing 15 runs combined in 12 1/3 innings.
Early in the season and in Samardzija’s last start prior to Sunday’s 6-4 loss to Detroit, it was first-inning runs that derailed his chances of winning. On Sunday, it was two home runs in the sixth inning that did the damage after Chicago had jumped ahead.
“He has had some good starts and some that just did not work out,” pitching coach Don Cooper said. “His recent ones have been inconsistent because he has made a few too many mistakes. He has been paying for his mistakes. Sometimes you don’t pay for every poor pitch that you make. Sunday, we did.”
Samardzija, Cooper and manager Robin Ventura got together Monday to see if they could resolve some of the trappings that Samardizja has been getting into. On a path to be a free agent at season’s end, Samardzija has pitched for three teams in less than a year and could possibly been putting too much pressure on himself so far this season.
“This guy has so many good qualities,” Cooper said. “His stuff is above average across the board. He is a competitor and an extreme competitor. He is a worker and a battler. In every single game he has pitched, he has thrown two-to-one strikes to balls. That is everyone’s goal going into a game. That all said, within that good stuff he is making some mistakes. That is something we are trying to corral. That in a nutshell is what is going on with Jeff.”
A 4-4 record and a 4.93 ERA isn’t what either Samardzija or the White Sox had expected this season. Team defense has let him down in some crucial situations, and he’s followed by not being able to pitch out of that — often in early inning situations.
Cooper and Samardzija have worked hard to understand each other and communicate.
“We definitely are the same in many ways,” Cooper said. “In my relationship with him, I want to be a good listener. I want to hear what he has to say, and that is what we are going to talk about. Sometimes I talk and he talks at the same time. We are the same way also in that we both want to win badly every time out. Every day we come to the park to get to the root of it. We are going to have tough conversations if we need to. We will center in on the things we need to do individually to take our game to another level we want to get it to.”
If the ship of White Sox fortunes doesn’t get righted in the next month, the outlook could change. Like some of the other White Sox veterans who aren’t locked into long-term deals, Samardzija will likely find himself on the trading block if success doesn’t come soon. The original White Sox plan was to try and sign him to a long-term deal before he reached free agent status in November.
That plan may be on hold for now.
“He really wants to do well coming over here,” Cooper said. “I think he has put a little extra pressure on himself. There is too much frustration going on. We have to keep it simple for him and continue try and make pitches. That is what we are working on.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.