The Chicago Cubs played their first Cactus League game of 2014 on Thursday, and promptly ended speculation of an undefeated spring with a 5-2 loss to the D’Backs. Embattled trade bait, Jeff Samardzija, started for the Cubs and threw two scoreless innings despite walking the leadoff batter. After the game, he further endeared himself to Cubs fans by talking about the trade speculation swirling around him.
“If anything, it just puts a chip on your shoulder,” Samardzija said after working out of a first-inning jam to get through two scoreless innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Cubs’ spring opener at their new spring ballpark.
“It makes you want to go out and prove yourself even more.”
Great. Now he has a chip on his shoulder. This should be fantastic. Does Rick Renteria have any advice for young Jeff?
“I see him the same right now as I’ve seen him before,” manager Rick Renteria said when asked about the advantages or disadvantages of playing with a chip. “He’s always been driven to do well. As far as a chip … I haven’t heard anything.”
Other things happened yesterday, too, including Emilio Bonifacio looking like someone who could be an asset to the Cubs offense this year. Might Renteria think about him at second instead of Darwin Barney?
“I look at Bonnie kind of like a Chone Figgins, where he can go here, there, everywhere,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He can go in different places, so it keeps everybody in the game and allows him the freedom to be in the lineup as often as possible. His flexibility in the National League game is obviously a big plus for us.”
So, right now, Barney is your starting second baseman?
“Yeah, that’s how I see it,” Renteria said.
I’m sure he meant Chone Figgins when he played for the Angels and not the one from his Mariners days.
Another Cub had a good day offensively yesterday.
He’s off to a good start after a 2-for-2 afternoon in the Cubs’ 5-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday.
“Very nice,” manager Rick Renteria said after the game of Castro’s performance. “Some nice at-bats. He’s been working, and his body language is good. It’s moving along.”
Would a good year from Starlin be redemption or renewal? Either way, the Cubs are back on the field today at 2:05 Central to face the Angels. Chris Rusin will start for the Cubs, and you’ll be able to listen on WGN radio and Cubs.com.