Up in the air: Coleman, Samardzija make a pitch

Up in the air: Coleman, Samardzija make a pitch
September 12, 2010, 8:44 pm
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Sunday, Sept. 12, 2010
6:52 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MILWAUKEE When the Cubs selected Casey Coleman in the 15th round of the 2008 draft, it was difficult for him to picture where he would be in two years, but he certainly didnt see this.

That June Carlos Zambrano was in the first season of a five-year deal. Ryan Dempster was coming off a season in which he saved 28 games. Both would be named All-Stars, as would Ted Lilly the following year. The next month the Cubs traded for Rich Harden, hoping that would be the move to put them over the top in October.

It hasnt worked out the way anyone envisioned, but it has cleared a path for Coleman to become the games first third-generation major-league pitcher. But the 23-year-old doesnt want to become just an answer to a trivia question.

Colemans father Joe is an instructor in the Detroit Tigers system, so he understands that young pitchers typically get a chance out of the bullpen to showcase their arms, maybe one start to make an impression.

Coleman added to his body of work during Sundays 2-0 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers in front of 37,317 fans at Miller Park. Hes pitched at least six innings in each of his last four starts. Hes developing a routine and competing for a job. The nerves are gone.

Im looking at it as a great opportunity, said Coleman, who allowed one run Sunday across six innings. Hopefully whoever is here next year as manager will get to see how Ive done.

The 62-81 Cubs have shifted to player-development mode, and next they will evaluate Jeff Samardzija, to see how far hes come since April 24.

During his last trip to Miller Park, Samardzija learned that he was being sent down to Triple-A Iowa, a stay that lasted almost five months. On Sunday he was told that hell be starting the next night against a St. Louis Cardinals team fading from the National League Central race.

Sometimes you get pulled into the office for bad things, Samardzija said, and sometimes for good things. (Im) ready to go.

The Cubs expected to take a look at their 10 million investment later this week, but those plans changed on Sunday when Carlos Silva reported discomfort with whats being described as a right elbow strain.

Silva isnt traveling with the team to St. Louis and will visit Dr. Stephen Gryzlo on Monday at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Presumably the staff will decide whether or not it makes sense to shut down Silva for the final three weeks of the season.

That creates an opportunity for Samardzija, who went 11-3 with a 4.37 ERA at Iowa, but was repeatedly bypassed as the Cubs held auditions throughout the summer.

(Well) get out there and just really attack, Samardzija said. I dont think theres really anything else to change or anything else to look at just go out and pitch. (Its) definitely something thats been on my mind for a long time.

The television sets in the Cubs clubhouse and the Miller Park press box have been tuned into college football and NFL games all weekend. Samardzija, once a star wide receiver at the University of Notre Dame, dismissed a reporter wondering if he still thinks about his career choice.

Coleman never had those conflicts of interest. He was seemingly born to pitch, and though he doesnt have blow-away stuff, the staffs streak of 25 consecutive scoreless innings was snapped only after Ryan Braun muscled a broken-bat double that landed near the line in shallow right field.

The Brewers (66-76) lit up Coleman for six runs in 2 13 innings during his big-league debut on Aug. 2. Hes been living out of a hotel ever since, because he didnt know how long hed remain in Chicago. He went back and studied the film from that game, hoping to find any edge that will help him stick at this level.

This is a game of adjustments, he said. It gives you a lot of confidence as a pitcher knowing that these guys dont own you and you can get them out and compete. That will be something I build on for the future, because I hope to face them again.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.