Samardzija named White Sox Opening Day starter

Two previous assignments came with Cubs

Samardzija named White Sox Opening Day starter

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jeff Samardzija has already proven himself to the city of Chicago as a very capable Opening Day starter. This time around, he'll get to do so for the club from the South Side.

Samardzija will be on the hill opposite Yordano Ventura when the White Sox open their season in Kansas City on April 6, manager Robin Ventura announced Wednesday. The club had initially tabbed Chris Sale, but those plans were nullified when Sale sustained an avulsion fracture of his right foot early in camp.

In two career Opening Day starts for the Cubs -- against Pittsburgh in 2013 and 2014 -- Samardzija threw 15 shutout innings, allowing just seven hits. Ventura said that probably stems from the intensity Samardzija brings to each start.

"The football [background] that he has, and the athletic part of him, just attitude-wise and everything, it suits up well for him to be able to have an Opening Day [start]," Ventura said. "Guys will be excited with him. Personality-wise, he likes to go after it."

The move doesn't come as much of a surprise. Jose Quintana will start the second game of the season for the White Sox, and Ventura wouldn't go any further with his rotation. John Danks and Hector Noesi currently project into the third and fourth slots.

The White Sox acquired Samardzija in December in a trade with Oakland, sending Marcus Semien, Chris Bassitt, Josh Phegley and Rangel Ravelo to the A's.

"It's always an honor for those guys to do that," Ventura said of handing the ball to a pitcher on Opening Day. "Jeff's done it before. Bringing him over here -- this is part of the reason we brought him over here. Chris was going to be the guy. And if it's not him, it's going to be Jeff."

This spring, Samardzija hasn't been particularly sharp. He's allowed nine earned runs in 11 1/3 innings, and he's surrendered four long balls.

But, of course, those are Spring Training numbers, and Samardzija has more than proven himself in the past. He posted a 2.99 ERA last season, racking up 202 strikeouts in 219 2/3 innings.

"For me, it was just getting to know him and seeing him here," Ventura said. "You just realize he's the right guy to do it."

Samardzija will start Friday against the Cubs and then again on April 1 before he takes the hill on Opening Day. He'll address the media Thursday morning.

Jaime Navarro is the only other pitcher to start Opening Day for the Cubs (1996) and White Sox (1997), also doing so in successive seasons.

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.