MESA, Ariz. -- Jeff Samardzija's dominating spring starting debut already has people asking whether one of the available starting jobs is already his to lose.
More telling, manager Dale Sveum paused slightly before answering.
``Um, I don't know about that,'' Sveum said Thursday morning, about 20 hours after Samardzija shut out Kansas City for three innings on one hit. ``That's obviously a tough situation. ... I don't think it's his job to lose, but it's getting to the point where three weeks from now, it's going to be an interesting decision.''
Samardzija, who admits he's pitching with ``a chip on my shoulder'' this spring, was so strong on Wednesday that he was sent out for an extra inning because his two scheduled innings were so relatively effortless.
``It was almost a waste of his time to drive an hour [to Surprise] to not even break a sweat - he was that good,'' Sveum said. ``I can't remember the last time I've seen a power arm like that come into spring training and everything's been that crisp. He doesn't throw any scuds. Everything is at least somewhat where he wants it to be, all his pitches. His cutter was tremendous ... 91 mph cutters that he located tremendously.
``It's an interesting dilemma we're going to be in here in a few weeks.''
Supposedly, Samardzija is battling for one of two openings, against more experienced starters Chris Volstad, Randy Wells, Travis Wood and Rodrigo Lopez.
Samardzija went to Mesa well ahead of the start of camp and has been working out ``like a mad man,'' Sveum said.
``It means something to me,'' Samardzija said of earning a starting job after his breakthrough season in the bullpen last year. ``I want to come out here and pitch good. I'm close to home. I've been here for five, six years. It does mean something to me. And most importantly I want to win, and if I feel I can do something to help us get that done and get a few more wins, I'm going to do what it takes.''
The Cubs sent Volstad to the mound Thursday for his first start of the spring. The lineup (against Seattle):
RF David DeJesus
CF Marlon Byrd
SS Starlin Castro
3B Ian Stewart
LF Alfonso Soriano
1B Anthony Rizzo
2B Jeff Baker
DH Reed Johnson
C Welington Castillo