Tarnished Golden Domer

By Beachwood Reporter on Sunday, April 25, 2010

In his first 26 appearances for the Cubs, Jeff Samardzija looked as golden as Notre Dame's dome.

The year was 2008 and Samardzija, just a year-and-a-half out of Notre Dame, gave up seven earned runs in 27.2 innings for an ERA of 2.28. He struck out 25 while walking 15.

Since then, Samardzija's been a disaster.

What happened?

"Look,'' Lou Piniella said on Saturday, after Samardzija had been sent down to Triple-A Iowa. ''He hasn't been in pro ball for more than, what, three or four years? That's not very long. And to his detriment, we've moved him where we've needed him, back and forth [from starter to reliever]. That's not the easiest thing to do.''

Still, Piniella was so excited about Samardjiza's debut performance - in relief - on July 25, 2008, that he said the young phenom might never see the minors again. Two days later, Samardzija recorded his first major league save.

Now, at age 25, his career is said to be at a "crossroads."

The pitching coach for the I-Cubs is Mike Mason, but maybe the Cubs should assign special assistant Greg Maddux to solving the problem - and the $10 million to $16.5 million investment - that is Samardzija. It might be the best way to get Carlos Zambrano out of the bullpen.

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