ANAHEIM, Calif. – Jeff Samardzija isn’t going to engage in a war of words with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
At 6-foot-5, with long hair and a famous last name, the Cubs pitcher is already a target. He exchanged words with Diamondbacks third-base coach Matt Williams in between innings on Saturday at Wrigley Field, and the morning after manager Kirk Gibson delivered this money quote: “Shut the (bleep) up and pitch.”
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“Those guys played for a long time,” Samardzija said Tuesday at Angel Stadium. “You think that they’d have a pretty good idea of what happens during games. It gets a little heated and a little on edge out there, (with) a lot of excitement, a lot of emotions running, so I don’t think it was anything too serious.”
One witness indicated Gibson wasn’t trying to send a message or sound tough. The old-school manager praised Samardzija’s stuff and overall improvement during Sunday’s media session before getting a question about the pitcher yelling at Williams.
“It’s part of the game,” Gibson said, according to MLB.com. “Whatever. He didn’t get the win did he? Maybe the next time he should just shut the (bleep) up and pitch.”
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Samardzija struck out 11 Diamondbacks in 6 1 /3 innings before being charged with three runs in a 12-4 loss that turned on Paul Goldschmidt’s grand slam off Carlos Marmol. Samardzija said he wasn’t sure what he did wrong.
“The best I can remember is they just weren’t too happy that I was throwing in on (Ian) Kennedy,” Samardzija said. “But I don’t know why I would be trying to hit him – he’s the pitcher. There’s no reason for me doing that. I was just losing the ball arm-side there for awhile, but apparently they didn’t like that.
“Like I said, I don’t think that was a big deal. I just thought we were playing the game (with) a lot of emotions. They played for a long time, too, and they were successful players. I figured they’d understand, but I guess not.”
Samardzija is usually demonstrative on the mound, screaming and pumping his fist or covering his face with his glove. Whatever happened on Saturday night, it wasn’t out of character, and it almost certainly won’t be the last time he gets under an opponent’s skin.
“No more than any other day,” Samardzija said. “I’m an emotional player. I’m not trying to disrespect anyone or show anyone up. I just thought they were playing the game that we love to play. That’s all.”