Samardzija thrilled with opening day honor

MESA, Ariz. -- Jeff Samardzija got the good news Sunday that he’ll be the Chicago Cubs’ opening day starter on April 1 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“I am excited,” Samardzija said. “The best thing as an athlete is to work hard and see positive gains from it. That (helps) you continue to work hard and keep improving. You get a little taste of success and you want to keep it going.”

Samardzija was the team’s most consistent starter last year with a 9-13 record and a 3.81 ERA.

“For what he did his last eight starts, he is a guy you want out there,” Sveum said. “He is a guy players rally around because of his work ethic. He has that bulldog mentality. This was a very obvious choice.”

Samardzija, who made the transition from the Cubs bullpen to the rotation in 2012, won’t rest after receiving his first opening day assignment.

“You don’t take anything for granted in this game, it is a long season,” Samardzija said. “You don’t want to look ahead to next year or the year after that. Nothing is in stone. I will go start-to-start and go from there.”