Chris Sale

What Jeff Samardzija has in common with Kershaw, Lester and Sale

What Jeff Samardzija has in common with Kershaw, Lester and Sale

SAN DIEGO — After Monday night’s win, Jeff Samardzija noted that his favorite pitchers growing up were the ones who would throw 130-plus pitches and then come back on short rest and do it again. He said he fondly remembers watching CC Sabathia go on three days rest three consecutive times in 2008 to drag the Brewers into the playoffs. 

Samardzija, then, will enjoy looking at a particular leaderboard on Tuesday. He woke up as the National League’s leader in innings (176 2/3) after shutting out the Padres. The complete game was just the third of the season for the Giants, and per Elias, it put Samardzija in a select group. He joined Clayton Kershaw, Jon Lester and Chris Sale as the only pitchers with at least one complete game in each of the last six seasons. 

“It just means I’m a workhorse, I guess,” Samardzija said of leading the league in innings. “It shows you’re a professional. It shows you did your work in the offseason. Your season goes two ways in September. (You can) stay on the gas and take advantage of these hitters who have 600 at-bats under their belt and maybe aren’t feeling great. You’ve got to pick and choose what you do, and I like to pride myself on mental toughness.”

Samardzija’s shutout was the second by the Giants this year. Ty Blach blanked the Phillies on June 2. The other complete game was Madison Bumgarner’s eight-inning loss here at Petco Park in April. 

Bumgarner was second in the NL last season with 226 2/3 innings last year. He won’t get close this year, but Samardzija is on pace for 214, which would give him a fifth consecutive 200-inning season.

Canha finds comfort zone against Sale, then walks off for A's in 10th

Canha finds comfort zone against Sale, then walks off for A's in 10th

OAKLAND — An early-season ticket to Triple-A Nashville wasn’t what Mark Canha had in mind, but the time in the minors was well spent.

The A’s outfielder says he came back a more confident and prepared hitter, and was that ever apparent Friday night. Canha capped a 3-for-4 night with a 10th inning game-winning homer off Heath Hembree to sink the Red Sox 3-2 and give the A’s their fourth walk-off victory in their past 13 games.

Hembree fell behind 2-0 and then left a slider hanging on the inner half of the plate, and Canha turned on it and launched it over the left field wall, ending an entertaining and well-played game that had the bipartisan Coliseum crowd charged up throughout the night.

To hear Canha tell it, he wasn’t in his comfort zone stepping in against Hembree to lead off the bottom of the 10th.

“Even in that at-bat, I was kind of battling myself,” he said. “My take on the 1-0 pitch was super-rushy and super-jumpy, and I told myself I needed to calm down after that pitch. I told myself ‘calm down, go slow,’ and I saw it really well and put a good swing on it.”

Strangely enough, Canha appeared quite comfortable taking his hacks against fireballing Red Sox lefty Chris Sale, the five-time All-Star and major leagues’ strikeout leader. Sale struck out 10 over seven innings of two-run ball — matching his own modern-day major league record with eight consecutive starts in a season with double-digit strikeouts (a mark he shares with Pedro Martinez).

But Canha lined a double to left in his first at-bat, then got the A’s on the board with a run-scoring triple to right in the fifth.

Canha had faced Sale just one prior time, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts on Opening Night a year ago when the lefty was mowing down hitters for the White Sox.

“I was a different player at the beginning of last year than I am now,” Canha said. “I just kept telling myself that, and telling myself tonight I’m gonna see the ball better against him than I did. I just had a plan to be aggressive all night, and it worked out.”

Canha went 2-for-19 to begin his season and was optioned to Nashville. At the time, manager Bob Melvin said Canha needed consistent at-bats in order to make a quick return to the bigs. Looking back, Canha believes that stint at Triple-A was important. In the seven games he’s played upon returning, he is 10-for-21 (.476) with two homers and six RBI.

“I needed the at-bats and I needed to make some adjustments,” he said. “I wasn’t where I needed to be. I had some things to figure out. I’m not saying I’ve figured it out, but I’m seeing the ball a little better.”

Verlander, Cabrera, Sale could be available on trade market

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USATSI

Verlander, Cabrera, Sale could be available on trade market

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander and slugger Miguel Cabrera could be available for the right price. The Chicago White Sox might be prepared to deal Chris Sale, too.

Not even a week has passed since the Chicago Cubs won their first World Series title in more than a century, and teams already are involved in trade talk as they position themselves for 2017 and beyond.

"The conversations this year with GMs started earlier and had more substance to them than I recall in the past," Philadelphia general manager Matt Klentak said Tuesday on the first full day of the GMs' annual meeting.

A weak free-agent market at many positions has driven deal dialogue. Frustrated they have not won the World Series since 1984 despite a payroll that is among baseball's highest, the Tigers sound ready to embark on a rebuild.

"We have an open mind to listen on any player on our roster," general manager Al Avila said. "We're going to try to make this organization good for the long run, not the short run. We're looking at it as all-in for the long haul. And so the transition, that first step, might be a little bit tough here."

A six-time All-Star right-hander who turns 34 in February, Verlander went 16-9 with a 3.04 ERA this year in his best season since 2012. He is owed $28 million in each of the next three seasons.

Cabrera, an 11-time All-Star who plays mostly first base these days, turns 34 in April. He will be paid $28 million next year, $30 million in each of the following four seasons and $32 million annually in 2022 and '23.

Detroit's payroll was about $199 million this year, trailing only the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees and Boston, and the Tigers likely will pay a luxury tax of just under $4 million. An 86-75 record, eight games behind AL Central champion Cleveland, prompted Detroit to reconsider its methods.

"If anybody thinks that you just can continue to add and add, where does the payroll get to?" Avila said.

On the South Side of Chicago, the White Sox sprinted to a 23-10 start, creating visions of a Windy City World Series against the Cubs, then sank to a 78-84 record. After winning the 2005 title, the White Sox have not even reached the playoffs since 2008.

Sale, a left-hander who turns 27 in March, was an All-Star in each of the last five seasons and has a contract that pays him $12 million next year and includes club options at $12.5 million for 2018 and $15 million for 2019.

White Sox GM Rick Hahn said other teams ask him about Sale, but Hahn also discusses the future with owner Jerry Reinsdorf and executive vice president Kenny Williams.

"I think our goal is to put ourselves in a position to win on a sustainable basis," Hahn said. "We've been focused on a short-term benefit. We've gotten to the point when we have had our conversations internally with Jerry and Kenny where we realize a better position for the long term is a more prudent path."

Given the tendency of baseball executives to follow the leader, they seek to mimic the Cubs. Seeking its first title since 1908, Chicago hired Theo Epstein as president of baseball operations and Jed Hoyer as GM after the team went 71-91 in 2011.

As they overhauled the roster, the Cubs lost 101 games the following year, 96 in 2013 and 89 in 2014. As top draft picks reached the major league team, the Cubs added free agents during the past two offseasons and won 97 games in 2015 and a big league-high 103 this year, when they beat Cleveland in a seven-game World Series.

"Any time you're trading away really good veterans like that, you're setting yourself up for some really long summers," Hoyer cautioned. "The messaging in your clubhouse is really difficult. The messaging to your fan base is really difficult. Fans grow to like players on their team, and when you trade away the guy whose jersey they just got for Christmas or you trade away a guy's friend and mentor in the clubhouse, whoever that might be, that's hard messaging."

Going young, building a core group and then adding veterans in order to peak with a title is the goal. But making the right decisions on draft picks and swaps is the hard part.

"The idea that you rip the Band-Aid off, be bad for a couple of years, make some trades and always end up on the positive side, I don't think that's realistic," Hoyer said.

Avila, who took over as Detroit's GM when Dave Dombrowski was fired in August 2015, remembered when he was the Marlins' director of Latin American operations under Dombrowski. After winning the 1997 World Series, Florida jettisoned veterans such as Kevin Brown, Al Leiter and Moises Alou under the orders of owner H. Wayne Huizenga, who was in the process of selling the franchise.

"That was a fire sale," Avila said. "This is not a fire sale. This is a change of philosophy."