Former team, four homers don't faze Samardzija

Former team, four homers don't faze Samardzija

MESA, Ariz. -- Friday's contest against the Cubs was going to have a different feel for Jeff Samardzija, simply because it was played at Sloan Park as part of the Cactus League schedule.

But what was looked at as just another preparatory day by the White Sox Opening Day starter did have a slightly different feel for the 30-year-old who spent parts of seven seasons on the North Side.

"It was fun to pitch against them, a little weird," said Samardzija, who allowed six runs over his six innings, covering 92 pitches, while striking out nine and not issuing a walk. "Definitely a little weird for sure, but I felt good out there. As the game went on, I felt a lot better than the first inning. I got the ball down in the zone."

Samardzija gave up homers to Jorge Soler in the first, Starlin Castro in the fourth and Chris Coghlan and Anthony Castro in the fifth. That gives the opposition seven homers over the last 10 1/3 innings against the right-hander, and eight given up overall.

There doesn't seem to be much worry from Samardzija on the long ball connection in the Arizona climate, although he termed Friday as a game he has to go back and look at the film.

"The majority of pitches were good pitches and located where you want them," Samardzija said. "But I think you can see in a big league game, when you make mistakes, big league hitters jump on them.

"Again, we're out there getting our work in. We've got 92 pitches, pitched through the sixth, and I feel good and ready to go."

Since Samardzija will be making his Opening Day start on normal four days' rest, he intends to keep his pitch count up in his next start Wednesday, although he said the White Sox will play it by ear on that particular day. He won't get to see the Cubs again until the July 10-12 series at Wrigley Field, where he might not get the fairly warm reception he did Friday.

"But I didn't leave voluntarily, so I think they took it easy on me a little bit," Samardzija said. "It will probably be a little different during the season.

"It's a little weird. It's Spring Training too, right? So it's a little different feeling. Everyone's got a smile on their face and you're trying to get your work in. I wish those guys the best, and they look like they'll be all right."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for 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.