Samardzija with the Chicago Cubs
|Oakland Athletics – No. 29|
January 23, 1985 |
|Bats: Right||Throws: Right|
|July 25, 2008 for the Chicago Cubs|
(through 2014 season)
|Earned run average||3.85|
|Career highlights and awards|
Jeffrey Alan Samardzija (Serbian Latin: Džef Samardžija; born January 23, 1985) is an American pitcher for the Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball (MLB). He played college baseball and football for the University of Notre Dame, and was recognized as an All-American wide receiver. He played for the Chicago Cubs from 2008 to 2014.
Jeff's father, Sam Samardzija, was a semi-professional hockey player, and his older brother, Sam Samardzija Jr., was an All State football and baseball player who attended Indiana University and is now a sports agent of Major League Baseball. When Samardzija was in high school his mother, Debora Samardzija, died of a fatal respiratory disease.
Samardzija grew up in Valparaiso, Indiana, where he attended Washington Township Elementary School and Valparaiso High School, and was a letterman in football, basketball, and baseball. In football, he was a three-time first team All-State honoree, and was twice named the team's Most Valuable Player. After his junior year, he was invited to participate in the Indiana football All-Star game. In baseball, he was a first team All-State honoree. He graduated from Valparaiso High School in 2003. Shortly after graduation, he was arrested for illegal consumption of alcohol and resisting arrest. He was also charged with battery for allegedly pushing a police officer.
Samardzija accepted an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Notre Dame, where he played for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team from 2003 to 2006, and the Fighting Irish baseball team from 2004 to 2006. He made his first impact at Notre Dame as a right-handed pitcher for the baseball team, finishing second in the Big East Conference in both earned run average (ERA) (2.95) and opponents' batting average (.209), and being named a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball Magazine. He continued to play baseball at Notre Dame until he was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 5th round (149th overall) of the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft.
In football, he was a reserve for his first two seasons, catching a total of 24 passes. He first started at the 2005 Insight Bowl at the end of his sophomore season. He emerged as a star in the 2005 season, ending the regular season with 77 catches - 15 of them for touchdowns - for 1215 yards and making numerous All-America Teams.
He set single-season school records in both receiving yardage and touchdown receptions. Samardzija caught a touchdown pass in each of Notre Dame's first eight games in 2006, giving him the school record for consecutive games with a touchdown reception. Samardzija made 78 catches for 1,017 yards and 12 touchdowns in 13 games in the 2006 season to finish as the all-time Fighting Irish leader in reception yards with 2,593. He made the Football Writers Association of America All-America Team following the 2006 season.
Samardzija was selected as one of the three finalists for the Fred Biletnikoff Award, for the nation's top wide receiver in both 2005 and 2006. Although initially planning to play both in the NFL and MLB, Samardzija announced after being selected in the Major League Draft that he would take his name out of the NFL Draft and play baseball.
On January 19, 2007, Samardzija announced he would forgo the NFL Draft and commit to a baseball career. Samardzija signed a five-year deal to play baseball with the Chicago Cubs. The deal has a no-trade clause and a club option for a sixth and seventh year. If the club option is exercised, the total value of the deal would be $16.5 million.
On June 23, 2008, Samardzija was promoted to Triple-A Iowa after posting a 3-5 record in Tennessee with a 4.86 ERA. In his career in Triple-A Iowa, he has posted a 4-1 record and a 3.13 ERA, with 40 strikeouts and 16 walks.
On July 25, 2008, Samardzija was called up to join the bullpen of the Chicago Cubs to replace Kerry Wood, who was placed on the DL. He made his MLB debut the same day against the Florida Marlins, striking out the first batter he faced in the 7th inning. Chicago Cubs Manager Lou Piniella was impressed with Samardzija's major league debut, saying he may never see the minors again. On July 27, 2008, Samardzija recorded his first career major league save against the Florida Marlins.
In 2009, Samardzija was optioned to the Triple-A Iowa Cubs after failing to make the team out of spring training. However, he was quickly called back up only a few games into the season. He quickly returned to Des Moines to pitch for the Iowa Cubs, after posting an 8.10 ERA in 5 appearances. He made his first major league start on August 12 against Pedro Martinez of the Philadelphia Phillies, a 12-5 loss.
In March 2010 Samardzija returned to the Cubs and pitched his first game in exhibition on March 13, 2010. He pitched in four regular season games in April and compiled an 18.90 ERA before being sent back down to the Triple-A Iowa Cubs in order to make space for Ted Lilly on the Cubs roster.
In 2011, Samardzija made the opening day roster as a reliever. During the 2011 season Samardzija, statistically had his best season posting an 8-4 record and an ERA of 2.97 In 2012 Jeff was named a pitcher in the Cubs rotation and was solid going 9-13 with a 3.81 ERA and 180 strikeouts.
He began 2014 as a hardluck pitcher. He set a major league record for lowest ERA (1.46) by a winless pitcher through his first 10 starts. The 1.46 ERA was the latest league-leading ERA by a winless pitcher since Bruce Sutter's 0.89 ERA on June 7, 1977. Samardzija won his eleventh start of the season by striking out a season-high 10 San Francisco Giants. On June 18, 2014, the Cubs offered Samardzija a five-year, $85 million deal which he rejected.
On July 6, 2014, he was selected as a National League All-Star, but is not eligible to play because he was traded to an American League team.
On July 5, 2014, Samardzija, along with Jason Hammel, was traded to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for top shortstop Addison Russell, pitcher Dan Straily, outfielder Billy McKinney, and a player to be named later. In his debut on July 6, he went seven innings with five strikeouts, allowing one run and four hits.
Samardzija has thrown as many as seven types of pitches in his career, but as of 2012, he uses five. They are as follows: a four-seam fastball (93–97 mph, tops out at 100), two-seam fastball (92–96), cutter (91–93), slider (84–86), and splitter (85–87). He is comfortable throwing all of his pitches to right-handed hitters, but he tends not to throw the cutter to left-handed hitters. Against both right-handed and left-handed hitters, the splitter is by a wide margin his most commonly thrown pitch in 2-strike counts.
Samardzija is of Serbian heritage. His Serbian grandparents emigrated from Europe in the 1940s. Several of Samardzija's Notre Dame baseball teammates affectionately nicknamed him "Shark" early during his career at Notre Dame.
- Man for All Seasons - UND.COM - University of Notre Dame Official Athletic Site
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- Active Roster | cubs.com: Team
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- "Brooks Baseball · Home of the PitchFX Tool - Player Card: Jeff Samardzija". Brooks Baseball. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
- "Chicago Cubs honor Valpo's Jeff Samardzija with bobblehead". N.W. Times. 25 March 2012. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
- "ASAP Sports Transcripts - Football - 2005 - PRESS CONFERENCES - UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME MEDIA CONFERENCE - October 11". Retrieved 2 October 2014.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jeff Samardzija.|
- Notre Dame football profile
- Notre Dame baseball profile
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)