Samardzija feels good after first start

Samardzija feels good after first start

PHOENIX -- Jim Edmonds didn't look like a 39-year-old who had been out of baseball for a year in the first inning on Friday when he launched a 2-0 pitch from the Cubs' Jeff Samardzija over the right-field wall for the Milwaukee Brewers.

"He's always had that swing for as long as I can remember," Samardzija said of the veteran. "Certain things you can't lose -- it's like riding a bike. I'm sure, for him, going out there and hitting a fastball isn't too hard to pick back up."

This was Samardzija's first spring start, and he gave up four runs on five hits, including two homers, over two innings.

"They jumped on two fastballs," Samardzija said of the home runs. Gregg Zaun also connected in the first.

"We'll work in offspeed pitches earlier in the count," Samardzija said. "I thought we were aggressive, and I thought the splitter was great. The slider was here and there, but I felt pretty good."

The right-hander is competing for one of the vacancies in the Cubs' starting rotation. Tom Gorzelanny started Friday night in Las Vegas against the White Sox in a split-squad game, while Sean Marshall will make his first start on Saturday against the Cincinnati Reds at HoHoKam Park.

"Those decisions are out of my hands," Samardzija said. "I want to take something out of every outing and get stronger every time out. It's Spring Training and you have to build on up and get ready for the season."

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On Thursday, Carlos Silva, another candidate, had a much better outing. In his second start, he threw three scoreless innings against the San Diego Padres and gave up four hits and one walk. On March 6 against the White Sox, he was rocked for six runs on seven hits. The Cubs have tweaked Silva's mechanics a little.

"The first two innings, he threw across his body, which [pitching coach Larry Rothschild] has been working on," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "The last inning, he went away from it a little bit and old habits took over.

"He was better, no question. One thing about this guy here, he's here to do a good job. He's working hard, he's serious minded about what he's doing, he wants to improve and wants to help the team. Everything is positive."

Gorzelanny held the White Sox hitless for three innings on Friday. By virtue of three walks and a wild pitch, he also gave up a run. Gorzelanny struck out four in his quest to join the rotation.

"I think I just got a little ahead of myself and tried to do too much," he said. "I had to find my way back. It's good to get it out of the way now. It was a good confidence builder to get myself in a situation like that and be able to fight my way out of it."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.