MESA, Ariz. -- Jeff Samardzija's second Cactus League outing began rather eventfully. He gave up a triple to Colorado's Charlie Blackmon to open the game, then took a Michael Cuddyer comebacker off the foot before chasing down the ball and making the play at first base to temporarily prevent a run from scoring.
"I'm pretty used to those comebacker, get-drilled kind of things,'' Samardzija said. "It happened a few times last year. It's part of pitching, I guess. Protect the vital organs, and hopefully (the ball) stops close to you so you can get the guy out, right?''
Samardzija, who is basically a lock to be Chicago's Opening Day starter, has concentrated on functionality over results this spring. According to FanGraphs, he threw his split-finger fastball 17.5 percent of the time in 2013. In Arizona, he's focused exclusively on his fastball, cutter and slider and has yet to throw the split.
Samardzija showed some good late movement with his sinking fastball against Cuddyer and Troy Tulowitzki. He said he felt strongest in the third inning, but began elevating some pitches and allowed two runs to the Rockies. He also smoked Cuddyer in the upper back with a fastball that got away from him.
"That was just a weird thing,'' Samardzija said. "All my pitches down and in to righties were so good all day. Hopefully he's OK. He's a tough dude, so I'm sure he'll be fine.''