Giants release veteran right-hander Jeff Samardzija

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Giants released veteran right-hander Jeff Samardzija on Saturday, a day after he returned from a lengthy shoulder injury and rehab.

Samardzija, an 11-game winner in 2019, was designated for assignment and placed on unconditional release waivers days before his contract was to expire.

The 35-year-old pitcher signed a $90 million, five-year contract with San Francisco in December 2015, but spent much of his Giants tenure sidelined by injuries.

“I usually sit on the bench for a few minutes before I get ready to go. Sitting there was definitely a little emotional. You take for granted all those times before you’ve done it,” Samardzija said of reflecting Friday. “You’re just always going to be there and you’re always going to have that opportunity. I think we all know time goes by real fast. Sitting there looking at the stadium, it’s tough. I’ve had a lot of fun here, very much enjoyed my time. It’s been a first-class organization. I was just taking it all in.”

Samardzija allowed a two-run homer to Fernando Tatis Jr. among his three hits surrendered in three innings of Friday’s 6-5 loss to the Padres. It was his fourth start of 2020 and first appearance since Aug. 7. He was 0-2 with a 9.72 ERA this season after significant time at the club’s Sacramento alternate training site trying to recover – a challenge given there were no minor league rehab assignments to get ready.

The Giants weren’t going to have a start for him if they make the playoffs.

“I really respect the way he prepared for yesterday’s start,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “I thought his stuff came out better than I’d seen in a really long time. I thought he was especially competitive. In that game it kind of unraveled quickly and we went to our bullpen early but at one point I thought he was going to be able to carry us deep into the baseball game. I’m proud of what Jeff accomplished here with the Giants and I have no doubt that he’s going to attempt to continue his career and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him to go out and do really well going forward.”

Samardzija won 11 games in 2015 for the Chicago White Sox, marking his first double-digit victory total in his initial eight major league seasons before a career-best 12 wins in ’16 with the Giants.

He spent the second half of the 2014 season pitching in the Bay Area with the Oakland Athletics following his trade from the Chicago Cubs.

Samardzija said he plans to pitch in 2021, which would be a 14th big league season: “100%, without a doubt,” he said, not ruling out a return to San Francisco if that were to work out.

“It’s always an honor to play for the Giants,” he said.