Jeff Samardzija: Stadium doesn’t win games
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org May 2, 2013 10:04PM
Chicago Cubs Anthony Rizzo dives in for a catch during the seventh inning at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Ill., on Thursday, May 2, 2013. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 4, 2013 6:38AM
Jeff Samardzija may be a traditionalist who grew up a Cubs fan in northwest Indiana, but sentiment has no place in his workplace.
Even if that workplace is Wrigley Field, and even if the owner has threatened to move the team from the 99-year-old landmark if the club can’t erect ballpark signage.
“The roster wins games; the stadium doesn’t win games,” said Samardzija, the Cubs’ Opening Day starter. “Unfortunately, this is stuff you have to deal with as a player, and it comes with the territory. But in this locker room, the way this team is playing is exciting, and that’s what should be talked about, and that’s what we should be worried about instead of sideshow stuff.
“We could play in a parking lot and it’s not going to make a difference.”
But the Cubs without Wrigley?
“It’s definitely a weird concept to say,” Samardzija said. “Then again, we’re here to play ball. We’re not here to talk about the alderman or whoever. We’re kind of along for the ride, like everybody else is. The players and the fans are kind of in the same boat. Obviously, everybody wants to stay here in Wrigley and wants to make it work here.”
But if the moving vans haul them to, say, Rosemont?
“It’s the same players, and it’s the same plan. And the 101 years is still there,” said Samardzija, having lost count of the Cubs’ lean years. “Winning a championship is still the No. 1 goal regardless of where the games are being played at. If we’re playing them on the South Side because this is getting renovated or we’re playing somewhere else, as a player, it really doesn’t matter. Because you’re here to win baseball games, regardless of venue, regardless of weather, regardless of the situation.”
Amped pitcher Matt Garza joined the team Thursday between minor-league rehab starts, “excited” about how he felt in start No. 1 Wednesday and “just looking forward to No. 2.” That comes Monday for Class AAA Iowa.
Garza (lat) is to be evaluated after his third rehab start to determine whether he needs a fourth or can be activated from the disabled list to join the rotation during the May 17-19 home series against the Mets.
† Reliever Kyuji Fujikawa (elbow) threw a bullpen session for pitching coach Chris Bosio and appears on track to start a minor-league rehab assignment Sunday, manager Dale Sveum said.
† Cubs third basemen lead the majors with seven home runs at the position. The team had 12 there all last season.
† Third baseman Ian Stewart’s minor-league rehab assignment expires Friday, but he’s nowhere near ready to return from the DL despite a fully healed quad (4-for-44 at Iowa). The Cubs are expected to activate him and option him to Iowa or attempt to “recertify” the injury to allow him to continue on rehab.