Complete focus, no distractions for Samardzija

Complete focus, no distractions for Samardzija

MESA, Ariz. -- Did the Cubs' Jeff Samardzija dump his girlfriend to become a big league pitcher?

In a recent interview, Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, said Samardzija met with Dale Sveum the day he was hired as Cubs manager, and talked about his complete commitment to baseball, which included breaking up with his girlfriend.

On Friday, Samardzija clarified the timing. He did meet with Sveum at Wrigley Field on the day he was hired in November 2011, and yes, he did dump his girlfriend.

"In previous years, I didn't feel like I had done everything I could," Samardzija said about baseball. "I thought I worked hard in the offseason and did a lot of things, but especially in midseason I didn't feel I was putting myself where I needed to be to be the best I could be.

"I worked hard that offseason and when I met, I told [Sveum], I had no distractions in my life, and this game can be a lot about just minimizing distractions from the outside," he said. "The older you get, the most you realize that.

"I wanted to level with him that I didn't have any distractions and the only thing on my mind was making the rotation and pitching 30, 32 starts. The best way I could describe it was by saying I didn't have a girlfriend."

So he dumped her?

"Hey, that's fine -- I dumped my girlfriend," Samardzija said. "That sounds like a better story."

It's also true, although he didn't do it before meeting the new Cubs manager. The breakup happened about six, seven months before Samardzija and Sveum talked.

"Like I said, I wanted to let [Sveum] know and let the staff know I was all in with this team and I wasn't going to have any distractions on the outside and I was commited to being the guy they needed me to be for this team," Samardzija said.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.