Cubs monitoring Samardzija after 126-pitch outing

Cubs monitoring Samardzija after 126-pitch outing
May 6, 2014, 8:30 pm
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Tony Andracki

Jeff Samardzija's name always seems to be at the forefront in the Crosstown series.

Whether it's hitting Paul Konerko in the face or shutting down the White Sox hitters, the big right-hander is always moving the needle.

After his Game 1 gem, Samardzija finds himself in the middle of a debate on the North Side - should he have been allowed to throw 126 pitches (a new career high) to get through the ninth inning and try to nail down his first win of the season?

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GM Jed Hoyer admitted the Cubs are a little wary after seeing Samardzija stretched to his limit on a frigid evening at Wrigley Field.

"In general, you don't like to see a guy get up that high," Hoyer said before Tuesday's tilt against the South Siders. "You hope that you can get through it before that. That said, I also think pitch counts in general, it's just a number, right?

"We don't have enough knowledge to know at what number things turn into danger and when they don't. Because of that, we try to focus on a pitch stress.

"It's a lot different to throw pitches with the bases loaded, it's a lot different to throw pitches in high-leverage spots. One hundred twenty-six through nine innings is something you don't want to do very often."

Hoyer said the Cubs sat down and discussed Samardzija's pitch count after the outing even though he looked strong late in the game.

[MORE - With days in Chicago numbered, Samardzija leaves it all out on the field]

Manager Rick Renteria said after the game he was just trying to get Samardzija a win after his "gritty" performance, but admitted he doesn't know if he would ever let the Cubs ace approach 126 pitches again.

"It worked out," Renteria said. "He showed everybody what he's made of. His teammates really appreciate what they saw. But I couldn't tell you I'd do it again."

Samardzija was over 100 pitches before entering the ninth inning, but was in a groove. He had retired 11 straight before allowing back-to-back walks to Jose Abreu and Adam Dunn.

Still, Renteria kept him out there, and Samardzija's rewarded his manager's faith by inducing an inning-ending double play.

"He was cruising for a bunch of innings and obviously, when he had the two walks in the ninth, that starts to raise your eyebrow," Hoyer said. "Is he getting tired? Just because you're a big, strong guy doesn't mean you don't get tired."

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In a normal situation, Samardzija might not have reached 126 pitches, but the Crosstown rivalry may have come into play a little bit.

"Jeff's from this area. I think he does have a little bit more emotion than most in these games," Hoyer said. "I think it shows with his performances; he's been great against the White Sox.

"It was fun to watch. But that's certainly not a trend when it comes to his pitch counts and that's something we'll monitor going forward."