BOSTON — If Jeff Samardzija is worried about Friday’s trade deadline, it hasn’t surfaced on the mound.
The White Sox right-hander made the most of his first start at Fenway Park on Tuesday night and kept his red-hot team in the thick of things as he pitched into the ninth inning in a 9-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox.
With a White Sox selloff seeming less likely each day — six straight victories has quickly changed matters — Samardzija kept the Red Sox in check while his offense and defense continued to impress. Once 32-42 and ninth in the wild-card race, the White Sox are four games back and sixth in the race for two spots.
“He’s done a great job,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I know there’s a lot of speculation, and there is probably a Shark Watch somewhere. He’s done a great job of just staying focused on what he’s doing.”
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The recent run reportedly has forced general manager Rick Hahn to give his club more time before he makes the choice to buy or sell, most analysts heavily expecting the latter. A free agent at the end of the season, Samardzija is the team’s most tradable commodity and would seem to command a strong return for the White Sox given the recent trades of Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir. Along with Cole Hamels and David Price, Samardzija’s name has been one of the most common in trade rumors for weeks as the White Sox sputtered. But it hasn’t affected Samardzija, who is 3-1 with a 2.27 ERA in five July starts.
He credits his success to last year’s experience with the Cubs, when Samardzija knew it was only a matter of when, not if, he would be traded. Now that the White Sox have begun to hit — they’ve outscored opponents 45-17 on their road trip — and catch the ball, Samardzija thinks the club’s actions have extending its chances of avoiding the chopping block.
“After the last couple of years, I’m pretty confident in what I’m concentrating on and what’s important to me, and like I said, things are not in my control and there’s really no reason to worry about them,” Samardzija said. “As long as we can keep playing the way we play and up to our standards, it’s going to be hard to break anyone up. We have a great group here, and I think we expect a lot of great things out of ourselves.”