That offseason boot camp Jeff Samardzija has subjected himself to the past two years in the Arizona desert will get an overhaul this season.
It won’t completely go away, especially since it’s the reason the right-hander was able to turn himself into an effective starter, but it figures to be drastically altered.
It’s not that Samardzija didn’t appreciate what all the hard winter work did for him. But as a starter now that could approach 200 innings by the time the season is done, he has reasoned that a throwing routine that starts in November might not be in his best interest.
“Obviously I felt I was in a good position to throw a lot this past offseason,” Samardzija said. “I thought my arm was in good shape from the previous year. But this year with throwing the innings we’re going to throw I’ll probably push it back a little bit.”
But because there is a camaraderie effect among the guys that do the early work, Samardzija will still embrace it.
“I will be out there for sure, just for the fact that if anybody wants to go out there and work out with us, it’s a great atmosphere,” he said. “We had a couple of guys out there usually every year. It’s usually low key. You have the whole weight room to yourself, the whole field to yourself. It’s just good to be there with a couple of guys that you don’t see in the offseason.”
Samardzija will pitch Friday night in that same Arizona desert where his transformation has taken place. He will take a 5-5 record and a 4.04 ERA to the mound to start a three-game series against the Diamondbacks where he will face off against Arizona left-hander Joe Saunders (4-5, 3.44).
And while he technically won’t be going home this weekend like Joe Mather and manager Dale Sveum are, there is a comfort zone that will come from being in the Phoenix area. He does own his own place there and while he will stay at the team hotel he will go visit the residence.
“I have a lot of stuff so I like to put my stuff somewhere and that place has about a quarter of my stuff,” Samardzija said. “Other places have some other stuff. I’m not technically a hoarder, but I have things that need placement so … ”
On Friday night, the only thing that will need placement is his fastball. If he finds his comfort zone like he expects to, then it might not be an issue.
“When you land in Arizona you can usually tell there’s that dry air and a (distinct) smell to it,” Samardzija said. “Usually you’re mentally prepared for spring training which is a little different. But yeah, there is a definite feeling about it when you get outside, because I am comfortable there just being there for so long. I haven’t been there in the dead heat like we’re going to be in but I enjoy being there. It’s nice.”