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Questions abound as Jeff Samardzija hits free agency

CHICAGO -- Jeff Samardzija's last start of the season is not only in the books, it is expected to be his last outing ever with the Chicago White Sox.

Samardzija picked up his second consecutive victory, but the partnership between the right-hander and his favorite team growing up as a kid in Indiana did not end up being the feel-good story it was framed to be when the season began.

His first full season in the American League went astray in the second half when he not only lost all six of his starts in August, he posted a 9.24 ERA over a string of nine starts that finally ended when he fired a one-hitter at the Detroit Tigers last week.

On Tuesday he followed that by giving up a pair of solo home runs and going seven innings while earning his 11th victory of the season, 4-2 over the Kansas City Royals. He now will go into free agency with plenty of question marks, although with a pair of late starts that could have provided some answers, too.

"Yeah, I mean, it was just a simple fix with my mechanics, with where my hands were, to tell you the truth," Samardzija said. "They were getting away from my body, which was making me get around the ball and missing left and right, and up in the zone mostly. So, I brought my hands a little tighter and it kept me a little more in line to the plate, and we started throwing more strikes, more quality strikes. I started hiding the ball a little better and we got what we got."

Samardzija could still pitch on a full four days of rest Sunday, but manager Robin Ventura will let either Erik Johnson or Frankie Montas pitch instead. Next year, both right-handers are expected to vie for the rotation spot Samardzija figures to vacate.

Had they been able to cure what ailed Samardzija earlier in the summer, the White Sox could have been in better position come late season, but it still might not have been enough to make a postseason push.

"We all wish it would have been different," Ventura said when asked about Samardzija's second-half struggles. "I know he would, we would. But again, I look at him as a good pitcher. It didn't work in that period of time but you see him throw these last two games he threw, you realize he's a good pitcher."

Samardzija himself admitted that two good starts heading into free agency wasn't enough.

"Um, you know, unsatisfied for me personally," Samardzija said of his 11-13 record with a 4.96 ERA. "I had a big role in what happened this year, and just think about it, if you throw a couple better games here and there, instead of some clunkers like I did, we might be telling a little different story right now.

"But you let it all hang out every game and what happens, happens. Unfortunately it didn't go my way as many times as I wanted to for this team, but, you know, that's the way it goes."

While a solid season could have landed him a huge payday in free agency, Samardzija could still be paid handsomely this winter, but not as big as once projected. He claims it is the least of his concerns, though.

"I could care less; I had enough money when I signed with the Cubs back in 2006," Samardzija said. "So, like I said before, for me it's more about a professional thing and respecting the guys that came before me that have put us in this situation in this game.

"To make the money we make, and have the fun we have, and travel the way we travel, that needs to be continued by players that are coming behind me and current players. For me, that's important. Ultimately, I want to be in a winning situation and pitching in October."

Do the White Sox fit that bill?

"Absolutely," he said. "There's a lot of great pieces here, man, great team. I had a great time this year. You know, just every time we got going it seemed like it just went the other way, so it's about consistency."