Giants’ Jeff Samardzija sharp in final spring training start

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Source:   —  April 01, 2016, at 9:53 AM

"The weather is always football weather, so it’s right up my alley."Making his first appearance in his new residence stadium in the Bay Bridge series opener against the A’s, Samardzija turned in his best start of the spring, throwing five scoreless innings and allowing one hit.

Giants’ Jeff Samardzija sharp in final spring training start

SAN FRANCISCO -- As soon as the Sunday dipped behind the upper deck at AT&T Park late Thursday afternoon, the resulting chill and whipping wind made it clear the Giants were back residence and a long way from the dry heat of Arizona.

"I like it," said Jeff Samardzija, the right-hander and former Notre Dame wide receiver. "The weather is always football weather, so it’s right up my alley."

Making his first appearance in his new residence stadium in the Bay Bridge series opener against the A’s, Samardzija turned in his best start of the spring, throwing five scoreless innings and allowing one hit. In his final tune-up before the regular season, Samardzija struck out five, didn't walk a batter and retired the final fifteen hitters he faced after Billy Burns’ leadoff triple in the first inning as the Giants beat the A’s, 3-1.

Samardzija’s following assignment will be Wednesday in Milwaukee, in the finale of the Giants’ opening series against the Brewers.

"He and Buster (Posey) just got in a excellent rhythm there and kept it going and I thought that was necessary for him," manager Bruce Bochy said. "His fastball was running, really kind slider had a lot of depth and bite to it. He really was in command of all his pitches. It was a excellent way to have your final start before we start things."

Samardzija left AZ with a 7.20 spring ERA, but that no was inflated by two destitute starts in which he allowed thirteen runs. Samardzija said he thought he’d still thrown well in those games and his final two starts -- in which he allowed two runs in eleventh innings, struck out nine and walked none -- were more indicative of his pitching.

"I’m just pleased my arm feels good," said Samardzija, who signed a five-year, $90 million contract with the Giants latest winter. "Camp is just about, particularly for a guy love me who likes to toss hard, just getting the (velocity) up and getting my strength."

Samardzija was constantly in the low-to-mid ninety on Thursday night and threw seventy-four pitches. He left a two-strike slider hittable to Burns, who lined it to right-center for a triple. But he then retired Chris Coghlan on a pop-up, Josh Reddick on a groundout and Danny Valencia on a flyout to right field to strand Burns at first. Only three more A’s batters hit the ball out of the infield.

"For me that’s about normal - pounding the zone and number walks," Samardzija said. "That’s my game plan. When you don’t walk anyone it’s kind of just up to where that ball goes. As long as you’re making excellent pitches you’re probably going to obtain a lot of outs keeping the ball out of the center of the plate and letting those guys work behind you."

Pagan impressing -- Samardzija got an assist in the third inning from Angel Pagan, who made a sliding capture in left field on Yonder Alonso’s sinking line drive. It was a excellent read and a lot of ground covered by Pagan, who's making the move from middle field to left this spring and Thursday night was contending with the lights and elements at AT&T.

"Great catch," Bochy said. "You know, he’s worked tough in left field. He’s spent a lot of time out there with (outfield coach) Roberto Kelly, working on shagging balls. It’s a different position for him with this change. He’s taken it upon himself to be a excellent one, and so distant he’s done a grand work out there."

Samardzija pointed out that Pagan is making the position switch in a contract year and still seems to be embracing it.

"To hear him not grumble about it really tells you what type of guy he's and the type of team we have," Samardzija said. "He’s a game-changer out there, for sure."

Et cetera -- Bochy , saying at one point that if the Giants were close out a couple times this series he might've to rethink hitting his pitcher eighth. Since they scored three runs Thursday, will he hold this lineup going forward?

"It didn’t bust out," Bochy said, grinning. "But I’ll attempt it again."

* The Giants scored all three of their runs on two-out hits. They also played an error-free game and their pitchers held the A’s to three hits.

"We played crisp baseball," Bochy said. "We had some ups and downs this spring, but it was excellent to play a normal game."

* Brandon Belt fouled a ball off his shin in the fourth inning and reacted awkwardly, and he appeared to have ice on the area after the game. But he looked limber sufficient chasing his infant son around the clubhouse.

* Game two of this series has Giants right-hander Jake Peavy facing A’s right-hander Kendall Graveman on Friday night at AT&T Park. First pitch at 7:15 p. m.

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