Samardzija, Cubs win home spring opener

The Associated Press
Samardzija, Cubs win home spring opener
.

View gallery

Chicago Cubs' Dioner Navarro is congratulated by Anthony Rizzo (44) and Alfonso Soriano after hitting …

MESA, Ariz. (AP) -- Jeff Samardzija made a strong spring debut and the Chicago Cubs scored four unearned runs in the first inning against San Francisco Giants ace Matt Cain, then held on for a 4-3 victory Sunday at HoHoKam Stadium.

Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro, acquired as a free agent during the winter, hit a three-run homer in the first inning after Alfonso Soriano hit a line drive off the right leg of Cain and reached first as the ball caromed away. Giants first baseman Brandon Belt made a throwing error one batter earlier.

''We were a little concerned,'' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ''The knee started to swell a little bit. We were a little cautious with the knee. He wanted to get back out there, but we shut him down.''

Cain, who finished the inning but did not take the mound in the second, said getting hit had nothing to do with giving up the home run, and said he expects to make his next spring start on schedule.

''It should be fine,'' said Cain, who has been tabbed by Bochy to make his first career opening-day start for the defending World Series champions. ''Just some ice now. Nothing to worry about, I don't think.

''Maybe I've just got to start using my glove more - or actually USING my glove.''

All four runs allowed by Cain were unearned because of a one-out throwing error by first baseman Brandon Belt one play before Soriano's drive.

''The best thing is that he's OK,'' said Soriano, who also singled to left-center in the third. ''That makes me happy.''

Samardzija gave up one run on three hits without a walk in his two innings of work, striking out two.

''I was happy with how things went,'' he said. ''The no walks and fastball command was important.''

Considered a front-runner for the Cubs' opening-day start, Samardzija escaped far worse injury than Cain sustained. He ducked and stumbled to avoid by inches Guillermo Quiroz' drive toward his head in the second inning.

An inning earlier Kensuke Tanaka got Samardzija with a glancing shot on another shot up the middle -shortstop Starlin Castro turned the carom into an out.

''Both of them were about as close as they get,'' Samardzija said. ''That's part of the fun. You've got to be on your toes, be ready to go. It's better if you knock it down and get an out like the first time.''

Last week while pitching batting practice to teammates, Samardzija was nearly hit another time when second baseman Darwin Barney hit a one-hop shot back through the box.

''After the second time (Sunday),'' Navarro said, ''I went out there and asked him where the magnet was.''

Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval, the World Series MVP, continued his strong hitting from winter ball, going 2 for 3, including a run-scoring double off Cubs closer Carlos Marmol in the third.

Sandoval, who duplicated his postseason MVP effort in the Venezuelan League finals last month, started both of the Giants' first two spring games (3-for-5, 2 RBIs).

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.
    • Bonds, Clemens making slow gains with changing electorate

      Bonds, Clemens making slow gains with changing electorate

      Hall of Fame voters are still sharply divided on Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Bonds and Clemens inched past the 50-percent mark for the first time Wednesday, each appearing on about 54 percent of ballots cast by the Baseball Writers' Association … More »

      AP - Sports - 1 hour 1 minute ago
    • 1/18/17: MLB.com FastCast

      1/18/17: MLB.com FastCast

      Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez are elected into the Hall of Fame, plus the Angels sign Kole Calhoun to a three-year extension … More »

      MLB.com - 3 hours ago
    • Longtime Astros slugger Bagwell elected to Hall of Fame

      Longtime Astros slugger Bagwell elected to Hall of Fame

      Jeff Bagwell struggled to describe how he felt soon after being elected to the Hall of Fame in his seventh year on the ballot. ''There's no greater thing you can get personally than the Hall of Fame. After missing the 75 percent needed for … More »

      AP - Sports - 5 hours ago
    • Hoffman misses Hall of Fame by 5 votes

      Hoffman misses Hall of Fame by 5 votes

      Well, Hells Bells, Trevor Hoffman didn't make baseball's Hall of Fame for the second straight season. In his second year on the ballot, Hoffman received 327 votes, appearing on 74 percent of the ballots and just shy of the 75 percent needed to get … More »

      AP - Sports - 5 hours ago
    • Pudge shrugs off slim first-ballot Hall margin, and reason

      Pudge shrugs off slim first-ballot Hall margin, and reason

      Ivan Rodriguez said he barely slept for three days waiting to find out whether he would get enough votes for election to baseball's Hall of Fame. Once Pudge was secure as just the second catcher behind Johnny Bench to get in on the first ballot, … More »

      AP - Sports - 5 hours ago