MINNEAPOLIS — He’s in limbo, but Jeff Samardzija doesn’t want to let his precarious position ruin his first All-Star week.
Traded to the Oakland A’s earlier this month, Samardzija can’t participate in Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Target Field because he was picked to represent the National League after a stellar start to the season with the Cubs.
Though he joked Monday that he’d love to pitch a complete inning, one half for each league, Samardzija said he doesn’t want to be a distraction.
“Do I get warmup pitches in between I guess is the question if that happens,” Samardzija said in an afternoon press conference for NL players. “I don’t want this to be a big deal. For me, if this becomes a big deal and a distraction, then it takes away from the week for me. Asking for something like that is too much.”
Aside from the hassle of a cross-country move, Samardzija sees lots of pluses after a blockbuster deal that brought him and ex-Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel to Oakland in exchange for a bushel of top prospects, including Double-A shortstop Addison Russell. Samardzija went from a team that isn’t in contention this season to one with the best record in baseball. Even though the trade disqualifies him from participation, Samardzija’s pretty ecstatic about his new home.
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“I’m excited to be on the team I’m on and they went out of their way to come get me and I’m going to live up to all the expectations they have for me,” Samardzija said. “The team I’m on, they deserve a lot of respect and don’t get talked about as much as they nearly should. They’re an amazing squad and I’m excited to be a part of their team and look forward to the rest of the year with them.”
Still, Samardzija would love the chance to pitch on Tuesday. But with his glass more than half full, Samardzija said he sees it as motivation to earn an All-Star nod in 2015 in Cincinnati.
“You chock it up as unfortunate timing and I enjoy being here with all the guys and seeing how it goes and give me a little taste of it and its gives me a reason to work a little harder and get back here next year and actually pitch at the game,” Samardzija said. “I’m just looking at the positive light of things and we’ll go from there.”