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updated: 4/26/2014 11:03 PM

Samardzija not bugged by Cubs continuing to rebuild

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  • Matt Garza, who beat the Cubs on Friday, said it's nice to be on a team that isn't just hoping to win every day.

      Matt Garza, who beat the Cubs on Friday, said it's nice to be on a team that isn't just hoping to win every day.
    Associated Press

 
 

MILWAUKEE -- Former Cubs pitcher Matt Garza isn't the easiest guy to like.

He can be brash. He can be abrasive. He can be smart-alecky. In days gone by, some people might have termed him a punk.

But Garza was not wrong Friday night in comments he made about the Cubs after beating them as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers.

"You go through three years of constantly hoping, you kind of run out of hope," he said of his stint with the Cubs, for whom he pitched from 2011 until last summer, when the Cubs traded him to Texas. "You come to a team like this (Milwaukee) where every day, we're going out to win. We're not going out to hope to win."

Those comments might be considered harsh and a bit over the line, but in this case, I get where he's coming from. The Cubs are in a rebuilding program. Everybody knows that, including Garza.

On the other side, Garza is a veteran professional athlete who knows no other way than to go out and try to win every game. Time ticks away quickly on all professional athletes' careers, and the opportunities for championships can be few and far between.

"Baseball players have a very day-to-day mentality," said Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija, who spoke Saturday in general terms while being aware of Garza's comments. "Short-term memory and move on to the next day. You worry about wining that game and doing your job to the fullest that day. As a professional, it (a rebuilding process) really doesn't come into your mind. As a whole, it's on your mind because it's always talked about.

"You put that out of your mind. You don't speculate on what you think the performance is going to be. All you do is prepare to go out there and win the game. It always comes down to each individual person."

Samardzija was a teammate of Garza's the entire time Garza was a Cub, so he knows how the fiery right-hander operates.

"Everybody's got different personalities, man," Samardzija said. "If you want all 25 guys to have cookie-cutter personalities and everybody's a Yes-Man, that's not going to work. All you want is 24 other guys on your team who compete every day.

"If you want to use Garza as an example, you can do that, a guy like that who comes out and competes and cares. You're here to do your job, and you owe it to the guys behind you to pitch the right way, and you owe it to the guy on the mound to play defense the right way."

Samardzija may well be the next established pitcher traded by the Cubs. Although not as flamboyant as Garza, he brings the same competitive spirit to the park.

"Hopefully, part of the rebuilding process is evaluating which guys have that mentality and which guys are competitors," he said. "One thing you can't dispute is a guy's competitiveness. Whether he's going to be really good in 2-3 years, you can speculate on that.

"But today, if a guy goes out and competes and cares and prepares that way for the game, that's not talent. That's not the surroundings, the situation. That's the makeup of that player individually.

"And that's what you need to look at."

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