MESA, Ariz. (AP) — Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija pitched out of enough trouble to get through three innings with the lead in Chicago's 6-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday.
Samardzija — a candidate to start opening day at Pittsburgh on April 1 — walked three, including two when he loaded the bases with none out in the second inning, was making his second spring start and became the first Cubs pitcher to get through three innings.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum has not named his Opening Day starter and said again Friday he plans to do that closer to the middle of the month. Right-handers Matt Garza, who has been slowed this spring by a lateral strain, and Edwin Jackson, who pitches Sunday, are the other candidates.
"Hopefully, I can just keep doing my work and see what happens," said Samardzija, who last season made a successful transition from bullpen to starting rotation. "Today the splitter was a little off, but I thought I got some good work in and they put some good at-bats out there. I got out of a couple jams, and that felt good, too."
Samardzija allowed a single and two walks to load the bases in the second, but a double play and strikeout limited the damage to one run allowed.
"To get out of there with one run, especially with a two-run lead, that's important," he said. "You don't want to be in those situations, but you're going to be in those situations during the year, and when it happens, like today, you just take a deep breath and understand, 'Let's work on getting out of this situation so when it happens during the season, we have a little better idea how to do it.