Samardzija starts march to trade deadline

PITTSBURGH -- In his first start since the Major League Baseball amateur draft was completed, Chicago Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija liked what he had on the mound against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday. He just didn’t like the results.

Samardzija gave up nine hits and the Cubs lost 4-0, mostly because of the efforts of reigning MVP Andrew McCutchen. His two doubles off Samardzija made the difference in the game.

“I feel like they jumped on my mistakes,” Samardzija said afterward. “They didn’t let me get away with anything.”

Cubs manager Rick Renteria thought Samardzija had “life” on his pitches, just not command of them.

Either way, he has had two rough starts in his last three after being arguably the best pitcher in baseball for two months.

With the draft complete, trade talks begin again around the league. Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said that May was a quiet month, but he knew June would be different. Teams addressed their future last weekend, but now it’s time for the present.

And Samardzija will be a wanted man. What’s going through his mind is anyone’s guess.

He was given a reprieve by reporters after Thursday’s game, only being asked about his start and not the elephant in the room -- that the beginning of the end of his Cubs career could be upon us.

Industry sources never believed how he threw in the first three months of this season, good or bad, would change much in terms of him signing with the Cubs. But how he pitches over the next six weeks should determine the haul the Cubs get in return for his services. If he returns to the form he had in April and May, their reward should be a great. Though even in losing on Thursday, he wasn’t all that bad.

“Jeff had good life to his pitches,” Renteria said. “His command didn’t seem as good as it has previously. He had great velocity.”

Another team will get to see his stuff firsthand soon enough.