"It's a lot different [in camp], but not because the day-to-day activities are different," Samardzija said Monday. "It's a different regime, it's new people. This team has been turned over, it seems like three times. You're still getting to know everyone in the locker room, still getting to know the staff. They've done a great job, an exceptional job of getting everybody together, having meetings with the front office, getting to know the guys personally and getting this team together so we make that turn a little quicker than normal."
Last season was the first in which Samardzija did not start a game. In 2009, he bounced back and forth between Triple-A Iowa and the big league team -- used both out of the bullpen and as a starter -- and did the same in 2010. In 2011, he compiled a 2.97 ERA in 75 appearances.
Samardzija has said he'd like to start, but he also wants to avoid being tagged as selfish. Asked what he thought if he didn't make the rotation and ended up in the bullpen, Samardzija said that was the "worst question" he's heard.
"It's about the team first," Samardzija said. "When it comes down to breaking for the season, you're going to do what's best for the team. Personally, I have my own goals and where I feel like I want to be but as a team, when it comes down to Game 1, it doesn't matter. All that matters is what your role is that they gave you that day and you go from there."
Cubs manager Dale Sveum watched Samardzija from the Brewers dugout last year and said the right-hander is motivated this spring.
"He's obviously a different guy than he was a year ago or two years ago," Sveum said. "His confidence level is at a peak level, and he's on a mission right now."
Samardzija will get stretched out, and could be in the mix along with Chris Volstad, Randy Wells, Travis Wood, and Andy Sonnanstine for a spot in the Cubs' rotation.
"It's fun to almost not be throwing that day so you can sit by the cages and watch these guys throw," Samardzija said. "We've got a lot of strong, young arms mixed in with some very good [veteran] arms, too."