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Samardzija focusing on fastball command, sinker

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MESA, Ariz. -- Jeff Samardzija is preparing for Opening Day, but he wasn't about to name himself as the Cubs' starter on March 31 against the Pirates.

The right-hander tuned up for the season with his second spring outing Wednesday, giving up three runs on four hits over three innings against the Rockies.

Samardzija has yet to throw his split, focusing instead on fastball command and his sinker.

"I want to come out and establish my other pitches and work on pounding the zone," Samardzija said. "A couple hits fell and got through, but other than that first triple [by Charlie Blackmon], no damage, and that's what you're looking for, is keeping the slugging down and keeping the walks down."

Samardzija doesn't have to worry this spring about making the Cubs' rotation, just making sure the team gets off to a good start.

"When you're younger, you don't realize the pressure or severity of the situation, I guess you could say," Samardzija said. "You're out there young and dumb and just winging the ball around. I'm going into the season with the mindset of being ready for Opening Day and really working towards that and seeing what I need to do to prepare for that so we can hit the season running."

Manager Rick Renteria has not named his Opening Day starter. Does that mean Samardzija, who had the honor last year, is the guy?

"I don't know," Samardzija said. "[Opening Day is] what we're preparing for."

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.

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