Samardzija eager to get season started on right foot

Becomes just second pitcher to be Opening Day starter on both sides of Chicago

Samardzija eager to get season started on right foot

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- For the third straight season, Jeff Samardzija has been tabbed an Opening Day starter. Only in 2015, following two stints with the Cubs in Pittsburgh on Day 1, Samardzija will be representing the White Sox in Kansas City on April 6.

That poorly kept secret was made official by manager Robin Ventura on Wednesday evening. Samardzija addressed this latest honor on Thursday morning in the White Sox clubhouse.

"I'm excited, just to come out and represent this team and put on a good showing for everybody," Samardzija said. "It's more special about the respect that it shows from the staff, and the confidence to go out and get the job done on a big day like that.

"So, yeah, I'm just excited and you don't want to let them down, right? You want to have a good performance and get the season off on the right foot."

Samardzija got the nod in place of the injured Chris Sale and over Jose Quintana, who willl start Game 2. This Opening Day honor also lines up Samardzija for four starts in the first 15 games and to face the Tigers in the season's second weekend.

He becomes just the second right-hander to start the season opener for the White Sox since 2000, joining Jose Contreras in 2006. He is 1-0 with 15 scoreless innings and 12 strikeouts over two previous Opening Days, and Samardzija joins Jaime Navarro as the second pitcher to start on Opening Day for the Cubs and the White Sox. Navarro accomplished the feat in 1996 with the Cubs and in 1997-98 with the White Sox.

The last appearance for Samardzija at Kauffman Stadium was with the A's as part of the exciting American League Wild Card Game won by the Royals. Samardzija isn't worried about the extra hoopla attached to the AL champions being recognized.

"Hopefully, it's nice and cold, 40 degrees and everybody all bundled up and having a good time. I'm excited to pitch," Samardzija said. "You just have to worry about what you're doing and what you can control. They have a great fan base and were excited last time I was there, and I'm assuming they'll be excited this time. 

"It's like I said about the weather, it gets ingrained that it's Opening Day -- It's not summer. Usually, it's a little gloomy and overcast. There is a certain smell in the air and feel to it. The first game, everyone is excited and everyone has it circled on the calendar."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.