Samardzija Sees Improvement

DAYTONA BEACH — Jeff Samardzija sees improvement in his performance since re-entering the starting rotation at Class-A Daytona following a brief stay in the bullpen.

Winless in nearly three months to start 2007, ace pitching prospect Jeff Samardzija spent time in the bullpen to work out some kinks in his mechanics, and has since found his first real success of the season.

Having moved back into the rotation after just two-plus weeks, Samardzija secured his first win on June 30, and his second five days later on July 5.

"I was just working on a couple of things mechanics-wise when I went to the bullpen," Samardzija said. "Along with that, I'm just trying to go out and throw early strikes in counts. Not doing that was the big problem."

If it sounds like the kid is learning a lesson, he is.

"It doesn't matter how hard you throw or what kind of stuff you've got when you're behind 2-0 or 3-1 a lot; your stuff is going to get hit," he said.

But over his last three starts, Samardzija has notched his first pair of wins with a combined 2.25 ERA in 16 innings of work. He has allowed just four earned runs in that span while managing to lower his season ERA to 4.46.

Best of all, he's not been falling behind hitters as much.

"His last couple of starts have been great, and he's throwing the ball a lot better," Daytona manager Jody Davis said of Samardzija.

"He's been a lot more conscience of getting ahead of hitters and throwing first pitch strikes, and he's found success doing it."

It was over a month ago that Daytona pitching coach Rich Bombard spoke about the move to the bullpen and how it would allow Samardzija to achieve something positive and boost the right-hander's confidence.

"It's going to work out because he's willing to put in the work and he's got good stuff," Bombard had said reassuringly at the time.

In the five starts since, Bombard has been proven right so far. Samardzija, meanwhile, has a more straightforward view of the situation.

"It was what it was. That's the best way that I can put it," he said.

And the move to the bullpen, however short-lived it may have been, seems to have served as an eye-opening experience for Shark.

"I have a good idea of what I want to do in my career and (the move) definitely got things going. You have to make a change here and there to really work on some things, and it got me thinking. It's coming along. I wouldn't say it's there yet, but it's definitely a lot better," he said.

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