"Obviously, that lock's getting a little closer and closer to being finalized," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Sunday, one day after Samardzija's four innings against the Rangers. The right-hander gave up one run on three hits. He has not walked a batter over 10 innings this spring.
"It's impressive and it's what organizations dream of -- a 6-foot-6, 240-pound athlete on the mound who has four pitches with velocity," Sveum said of Samardzija's performance. "It's impressive, there's no doubt about it. I don't think he's doing anything we didn't expect. The way he finished throwing the ball the last season, the mechanical changes he made, the confidence he gained. Now it's just full force right now."
Samardzija has about three starts remaining in Cactus League play. He's also got competition from Chris Volstad, Rodrigo Lopez, Travis Wood, and Randy Wells for the two openings in the rotation.
On Saturday, Samardzija faced the minimum in the first three innings and then the Rangers collected three straight singles in the fourth which led to their run.
"The thing people forget about hits is that even a lot of good pitchers will give up hits, singles," Sveum said. "It's the slugging percentage that you look for as much as anything with starting pitchers. I don't care what level you're at but it's difficult to string singles together to score runs.
"When you have starting pitchers who can go on the mound and keep the slugging percentage down through the course of the season as well as games, you'll be a lot better off," he said.