By Chris Emma–
CHICAGO (CBS) — Jeff Samardzija knows his way to Wrigley Field, and the former Cubs pitcher is familiar with just about every corner and turn of the 101-year-old ballpark.
Except for one little detail, of course — the visitors’ clubhouse.
“Heard a lot about it,” Samardzija said before taking a sarcastic turn. “Impressive to say the least. An engineering gem.”
The visitors’ clubhouse at Wrigley Field is extremely cramped and notorious throughout baseball as the most intimate clubhouse. Now, Samardzija’s back at Wrigley Field as a member of the White Sox ahead of the teams’ weekend three-game series.
When Samardzija was dealt by the Cubs to the Athletics last July 4, the club was in the final stages of collecting assets for the long term. Shortstop Addison Russell was the crown jewel sent in return from Oakland.
The Cubs are now a playoff contender currently holding the second wild-card spot. Has Samardzija paid attention to his former team’s success?
“You don’t really hear too much about the Cubs in Chicago,” Samardzija said in another sarcastic response. “They don’t get that much coverage.”
After being acquired by the White Sox from the Athletics in Decemeber, Samardzija is 6-4 with a 4.02 ERA and a WAR of 2.4. On Thursday, he tossed his first complete-game shutout as a member of the White Sox, so the pitching schedule falls in a way in which he won’t face his former team.
Given that the White Sox stand five games under .500 and are last in the AL Central entering Friday’s contest with the Cubs, Samardzija’s name is often brought up as a trade chip. His contract expires after this season, and the White Sox can consider him an asset before the July 31 non-wavier trade deadline.
Samardzija isn’t thinking much about trade possibilities, especially while on a hot streak on the mound that’s seen him go at least seven innings in his past seven starts.
“Yeah, just remember how you felt the last time out,” Samardzija said. “When it’s going good, you just want to stay consistent with what you’re doing and stay on schedule.”
Given that Samardzija isn’t starting during this crosstown series, he was able to take some time Friday and spend time with his former teammates. Samardzija was out on the field early before the game to offer hugs to many Cubs.
“You develop really close friendships in this game, especially when you’re with guys for five, six years,” Samardzija said. “Going through what we go through every day and traveling, you get sick of some of these guys sometimes, but it’s always nice to see them after the fact and catch up because three months, four months in the big leagues is a long time.”
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.