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Caple: Jeff Samardzija's tough side

tbd AP Photo/John Bazemore

CHICAGO -- Baseball players aren't as tough as football players.

When it rains, baseball players dash for cover in the dugout (unless the commissioner is in attendance and it's the World Series). If it snows, they might not even venture onto the field in the first place, instead staying in the clubhouse watching TV and sitting on leather couches. They sit out games after they injure themselves by sleeping in the wrong position or getting a "painful" tattoo or just plain sneezing too hard.

Football players, meanwhile, play without complaint in frigid, single-digit whiteouts that blanket the field. They suffer through vicious, blindside hits that crunch and bend bones and twist and tear ligaments. They play with broken ribs and punctured lungs. Playing through intense pain is simply part of the sport -- Ronnie Lott once had doctors amputate the tip of his finger so he could continue playing.

Which is why a mere bloody finger didn't stop Jeff Samardzija two weeks ago. He's a baseball player, yes -- a pitcher for the Cubs. But he's also a former wide receiver at Notre Dame. Facing the Reds in Cincinnati, the 28-year-old Cubs starter fielded a comebacker off the tip of his right index finger, which ripped a cut under the fingernail. He had to wipe the blood off on his uniform so frequently the rest of the game that he went through two pairs of pants and two shirts.

"It wouldn't close up because it was under the nail," Samardzija says. "They couldn't suture it. They couldn't close it. All we could do is mask the bleeding. It probably stopped later that night or the next day. It was pretty nasty. … Yeah, it hurt like a bitch."

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