SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Jeff Samardzija's transition from reliever to starter was going smoothly this spring until he ran into Carlos Gonzalez and the Colorado Rockies.
Samardzija was roughed up for seven runs and 10 hits in four innings, though the Chicago Cubs were able to outslug Colorado 10-8 on Friday behind Geovany Soto.
Soto homered twice and drove in five runs before a Salt River Fields record crowd of 12,584. He had three hits, including a pair of two-run homers off Rockies starter Tyler Chatwood.
Gonzalez also drove in five runs, with a bases-loaded double and a two-run single.
A former All-American receiver for Notre Dame's football team, Samardzija was 8-4 with a 2.97 ERA in 75 relief appearances for the Cubs last season.
But shortly after Dale Sveum was named the team's new manager in November, he told Samardzija he was leaning strongly toward making him a starter.
Samardzija began to throw around Thanksgiving, stretching out his arm. He said he had a ``dead-arm period' in December, then kept it going as spring training got closer on the calendar.
He was 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA in three Cactus League games (two starts) going into Friday. By the time he walked to the clubhouse, his ERA had more than doubled to 6.43. He didn't walk a batter and struck out two.
``The ball was up all day,' Samardzija said. ``They are a free-swinging, power-hitting team and if I keep the ball down in the zone, I get quick outs. I need to make quick adjustments.
``It was frustrating. When your offense gives you six or seven runs, you have to do better,' he said.
The right-hander expects to rely on advice from veteran starter Ryan Dempster, who was throwing with Samardzija even before they reported to camp.
``I will try to talk to Demp out there to see what he would do if he had a day like this,' Samardzija said.
``You also look at the film and see what you did wrong, apply what you need to do. All you can do is keep pitching.'
Jason Giambi gave the Rockies a 1-0 lead in the first inning with a run-scoring double. The Cubs rebounded with three runs in the second, two on Soto's first homer off Chatwood.
Colorado got four off Samardzija in the second, including a leadoff homer by Chris Nelson.
Soto connected off Chatwood again in a three-run fourth and had a run-scoring single in a three-run fifth.
Gonzalez raised his average from .233 to .273. He also made a fine defensive play, diving near the left-field line to snare a line drive hit by David DeJesus.
Bryan LaHair had three hits for the Cubs.
NOTES: Joe Mather appears to have a utility role locked up for the Cubs. He played late in the game at third base and had a double, raising his spring average to .436 (17 for 39). ... Colorado optioned two players to minor league camp (RHP Jach Putnam and INF D.J. LeMahieu) and reassigned four others to the minors (RHP Carlos Torres, OF Tim Wheeler, INF Nolan Arenado and INF Chad Tracy). ... Former Rockies reliever Manuel Corpas got the save. He missed all of 2011 following elbow ligament replacement surgery. ... Chatwood gave up nine runs - eight earned - and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings.
Copyright 2018 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.