From Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com …
MILWAUKEE – Matt Garza has a simple message for Jeff Samardzija: “Pitch your way out of there.”
The Cubs used to be a destination, but now it sounds more like a place where the inmates are hoping for early parole. Just ask Garza, who escaped last summer, getting traded to the Texas Rangers in the heat of a pennant race.
This was after the Cubs fell to the Brewers 5-3 on Saturday night in Milwaukee and dropped to 10 1/2 game back in the National League Central standings.
Samardzija owns a stellar 1.53 ERA in five starts this season but doesn’t have a win.
“I told him: ‘It doesn’t matter, dude. You play in Chicago,'” Garza said late Saturday. “I was there and I lost 30 wins in three seasons. So it’s not your fault. Just pitch your way out of it. … There’s nothing else you can do. … I’m hoping the best for him. He’s a young kid who deserves a shot to maybe go win something.”
Samardzija is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2015 season. Negotiations about a long-term extension have not gone far, and the thought is that he might be traded at some point this summer.
Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper played some third base during Monday’s intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Harper had been pestering manager Joe Girardi for the opportunity and the skipper finally gave in.
Girardi told Harper, “No diving. And make sure your arm is loose.” Harper had the opportunity to field one ball, a grounder to his left and he made the play perfectly.
Why put Harper at third base? Girardi said, “I think it’s important the guys have fun. I saw him a week ago taking ground balls there and I was impressed. His hands worked well out front and he threw the ball across the field well. I told him, ‘You look good there.'”
Despite the solid showing, don’t expect Harper to show up at third base in a meaningful game anytime soon. That being said, the Phillies’ second and third base situations are still not cemented. Jean Segura will likely open the season at the hot corner with Scott Kingery at second, but things could change between now and Opening Day in 10 days.
Harper, 27, is coming off a solid first season with the Phillies. He hit .260/.372/.510 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 114 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases across 682 plate appearances. Per FanGraphs, Harper’s 4.6 Wins Above Replacement ranked 16th in the National League. For some people, those numbers weren’t nearly good enough, so the expectations remain high as Harper enters year two of his 13-year, $330 million contract.