Maybe it would have been different if the Cubs weren’t a last-place team, breaking in a first-year manager and expecting to trade their Opening Day starter.
But during a slow Cubs-Sox week, general manager Jed Hoyer got sucked into the same news vacuum that swallowed Clark the Cub and the Wrigley 100 birthday cake after Rick Renteria let Jeff Samardzija throw 126 pitches.
“It’s Thursday. We’re talking about something that happened on Monday night,” Hoyer said at U.S. Cellular Field. “If you look at the comments that Rick made and Jeff made and I made, they’re almost identical. So, to me, that’s a non-story.”
Sitting in the visiting dugout during batting practice, Hoyer said he hadn’t talked to Samardzija, who told the media “I’m a grown man” and jabbed the front office by calling it “an on-field issue for uniform personnel.”
Renteria said he “wasn’t aware” of all the attention generated by Samardzija’s comments.
“I can’t speak to it because, again, I don’t read the paper,” Renteria said. “I didn’t know any of that was going on.”
It’s a story because Samardzija has heard his name in so much trade speculation since last summer, and long-term contract talks haven’t really advanced in the last 18 months. There are frustrations on both sides that the Cubs aren’t operating like a big-market franchise.
It’s a story because president of baseball operations Theo Epstein fired Dale Sveum last September, in part because the front office questioned the way the manager used certain players and how he handled the public-messaging aspects of the job.
On Tuesday, Hoyer had said the Cubs would sit down as a group to discuss Samardzija’s workload.
“I haven’t had any conversations with anybody about anything to that nature,” Renteria said.
Hoyer said it’s all part of the normal debriefing after every game, the running dialogue between a manager and the front office.
“I talk to Rick every day about pitcher usage,” Hoyer said. “So our conversation the day after that outing was not really that much different. (So) when asked about 126 pitches, Jeff said: ‘Am I going to do that every time out? Hell no.’
“No one – Theo and me included – had any problem with going 126 on Monday night. But I think all three of us have said, individually, that’s not something that’s going to happen every time out. I think that sort of goes without saying.”
So ends PitchCountGate, which will be a footnote in all the Samardzija retrospectives if (when?) he gets traded this summer.
“If you read all of our comments, I don’t think any comment was really an outlier,” Hoyer said. “That’s just a story that should probably die.”