Cubs president Theo Epstein seems to be taking the long view with pitcher Jeff Samardzija.
And rightly so.
Despite all the recent external talk that the Cubs need to extend Samardzija's contract or consider trading him, the fact remains that he's under the Cubs' control for a while.
Samardzija entered this season with just three years plus 28 days of major-league service time. Players cannot become free agents until they have at least six years of service time.
It was a gritty, if not great, outing by Samardzija in Tuesday's 6-4 loss in 11 innings to the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field. He threw 110 pitches over 6 innings, giving up 6 hits and 4 runs.
This is the 28-year-old Samardzija's second season as a full-time starting pitcher for the Cubs. He has been up-and-down, but Epstein said the Cubs will base no decisions on just how he finishes this year.
"Those are dynamic things," Epstein said. "We don't change how we think about a player based on 1 start here or 9 starts there. He's been a big part of our plans and someone who is important to us in a lot of ways.
"That'll be the case regardless of how he finishes out the season. We want him to continue to grow as a pitcher and continue to develop the consistency, which is, I think, the last remaining hurdle for him.
"He's got tremendous stuff. He's got tremendous makeup. Really, the only thing separating him from being the pitcher we believe he can be is consistency and taking it to the mound every time."
Samardzija ran his pitch count up early, throwing 28 pitches in the first inning and 25 in the third.
Honor for Mr. Cub:
Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks was honored before the game for receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.
Banks said he will visit the White House in November.
"Is this a great country or what?" he said. "It's amazing. It means everything to me. It just means life is just wonderful. When you do things to try to help people and share things, it really comes back to you. I just tried to work hard and love the players and love Wrigley Field, love all the players.
"This award means a lot to me. It really does. It's almost like the Nobel Peace Prize, to me."
Minor-league prospect Jorge Soler is looking doubtful to play again this season for Class A Daytona. Soler has been out since late June with a stress fracture in his left leg.
He underwent a medical exam in Arizona on Monday, and Epstein said there is still healing to be done and that Soler would continue wearing a walking boot.
Although the Cubs have all but ruled out more play at Daytona this year, they still plan to send Soler to the Arizona Fall League in October. They signed the 21-year-old outfielder to a nine-year major-league contract last season.
Speaking of Daytona, third baseman Kris Bryant made his debut there Tuesday and homered in his second at-bat, in the second game of a doubleheader against Clearwater.
Bryant, the Cubs' first-round draft choice this year, was promoted from Class A Boise. The homer came in his first game with Daytona.
Dan Vogelbach also homered in his Daytona debut, in the first game of the doubleheader. Vogelbach was promoted Monday from the Kane County Cougars.