Cubs: Jeff Samardzija at a crossroads in his career

Cubs: Jeff Samardzija at a crossroads in his career
February 2, 2014, 7:30 pm
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Tony Andracki

Jeff Samardzija's future is still unknown.

Will he remain with the Cubs beyond 2015? Will he even stick around Chicago for the entire 2014 season?

The Cubs still have to answer the Samardzija question, determining if they want to lock up their front-end starter or trade him for a stable of prospects.

Samardzija's name has been in the news all winter, mentioned in either trade rumors or discussions about a possible contract extension with the Cubs. That kind of distraction can't make it easy to stay focused.

[MORE: Samardzija ignores the noise, hopes his future will be with the Cubs]

"I don't really have any excuses," Samardzija told CSN's Kelly Crull at the Cubs Convention last month. "It is what it is...Everything is coming to a head now and we're just trying to iron through it and just kinda keep the bumpy path as smooth as possible and just worry about baseball.

"That's why we have the people around us that we have with our agents and our family and friends. You let them handle the business side of things while I continue my work and do what I have to do to keep that demand high because essentially, that's what it's all about.

"Being wanted is a good thing and I look to continue that, but obviously, my heart lies here in Chicago. I grew up 45 minutes from here, I went to college an hour-and-a-half from here and I love it here. I love the cold, I love the summers, I love Wrigley Field.

"This is where I want to be, but I also understand that's just not a 100 percent thing. Things change overnight and I just want to be playing baseball and hopefully on a winning team."

[RELATED: Samardzija headlines arbitration cases for Cubs]

Samardzija said he spent the early part of his offseason trying to recharge after the Cubs' 96-loss season, taking a beach trip to the Carribean and going on an African Safari.

The 6-foot-5 right-hander turned 29 last month and has thrown 388.1 innings for the Cubs in 61 starts over the last two seasons. He said his goal for 2014 is to hit 230 innings, but also to avoid the inconsistentcy that has plauged him in the past.

Samardzija, a former All-America receiver at Notre Dame, rises to the occasion, with some of his best games coming in the spotlight. But he has admitted he is still figuring out how to get up for every game like it's a playoff atmosphere.

"As a starter, complacency is a big issue," Samardzija told Crull. "Especially if you have success and you have three or four good games in a row and you're feeling really good, sometimes you tend to fall back a little bit.

"So you gotta stay consistent. I've learned that even through the heart of the summer, it's tough, it's hot, you don't see the front end or the back end [of the season], you're kind of stuck in the middle. You really need to kick yourself in the butt to do everything you need to do to stay consistent.

"It's also just the mentality of every day is the same. When you come out, a lot of games early in the season are different than they're going to be in the summer and so on and so forth. I just want to stay more consistent and play week-to-week a lot better rather than looking at the whole season."

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Having grown up in Northwest Indiana, Samardzija is very familiar with Wrigley Field and the tradition that comes with the area. The ballpark turns 100 this year and has been in the news constantly as the Cubs try to break ground on their $500 million renovation project, currently halted by ongoing disputes with the rooftop owners.

Chairman Tom Ricketts has threatened to move Wrigley Field to the suburbs, but Samardzija doesn't want to see that happen.

[MORE -- Rosemont mayor: Suburban option still there for Cubs]

"You can just feel the history," he said. "It's a great place to be and hopefully it's around for a lot longer, maybe with a little bit of touch-up here and there. A little pain might help. It's a great place to play, for sure."

Check out Samardzija's full interview with Crull above.