White Sox

Jeff Samardzija's first White Sox victory 'feels great'

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Jeff Samardzija's first White Sox victory 'feels great'

The “feels like” temperature on Weather.com said it was 31 degrees at first pitch on Wednesday and Jeff Samardzija probably won’t argue that point.

The White Sox starting pitcher said the blustery conditions, including 17-mph winds, at U.S. Cellular Field made it difficult to get comfortable on the mound. But Samardzija made the most of “subpar stuff” and led his team to a 6-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians, the first of his White Sox career. Samardzija pitched around six hits and two walks in six scoreless innings to earn a win he probably has dreamed about more times than he can count.

“It feels great,” Samardzija said. “It's all about proving yourself to these guys. You get new teammates and you want to come out here and make sure you prove your worth to them and they want to be go out there and play with you and be out there on tough days like that. They went out there and played great for me and (Geovany Soto) called a great game and got me through it.”

Since he allowed nine earned runs in his first eight innings with the White Sox, Samardzija has settled in nicely. He’s now allowed one earned run in his last 19 innings and hasn’t surrendered anything over the past 10 frames.

But the last six weren’t that easy and Samardzija threw 113 pitches on Wednesday to prove it. The right-hander stranded two runners in the second and fourth innings and left the bases loaded in the third.

“He has some tools to him,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “So with the stuff that he has he’s able to find something that’s working that he can rely on. Doesn’t have to go to it the whole time. In big spots he would go to it.”

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Outfielder Adam Eaton said he sees the football player in Samardzija, especially before the games he starts. He’s not a player that you interact with much prior to taking the mound and that attitude carries over onto the field. Even though Samardzija’s pitch count stood at 93 after four innings, Eaton had a feeling he’d complete a few more. Samardzija needed only 10 pitches in each of his last two innings as he retired six of the last seven batters he faced.

“You can tell he’s focused on what he needs to do and how he needs to do it,” Eaton said. “You can feel that energy form him that he will give you 120 pitches of whatever the best he has that day.”

Samardzija insists there wasn’t much of his best to be given. He started to warm up in the middle innings and that helped him to become more efficient when he needed it most.

“It was cold, man,” Samardzija said. “Trying to get that arm warmed up. I felt like around the 60th, 70th pitch we started getting going where we wanted. It was just a battle out there. It was tough conditions and like I said, when you get that early lead and you have the faith in your defense just to throw it over the plate and they made some great plays for me, it makes the day a lot of easier.”

So does getting the first victory out of the way.

After homering for his first MLB hit, Zack Collins was 'in shock'

After homering for his first MLB hit, Zack Collins was 'in shock'

The young players that figure to feature heavily in the future of the White Sox have had quite a week.

It started with Lucas Giolito being the first pitcher in the majors to reach 10 wins, then Eloy Jimenez blasted a big go-ahead home run in the ninth inning in his first crosstown game against the Cubs. Now, Zack Collins has added his own blast of optimism to the White Sox young core.

The 24-year-old made his first major league start on Friday in Texas and delivered a three-run home run in his first at-bat. It was his second MLB plate appearance after he drew a pinch-hit walk Wednesday in Wrigley.

After the White Sox beat the Rangers 5-4 in 10 innings, Collins talked to Jason Benetti and Steve Stone on the NBC Sports Chicago broadcast.

“Honestly I was just in shock,” Collins said. “I was running around the bases. It seemed like it lasted like three seconds and I felt myself sprinting around second so I had to slow it down and enjoy the moment, but it was an awesome time.”

Collins finished 1-for-5 with three strikeouts, but that is Collins’ game. He’s going to strikeout a lot and his batting average probably won’t be pretty. He has a career .234 batting average in the minors (.250 in Triple-A Charlotte this year), but he coupled that with a .378 on-base percentage and big power.

In his five trips to the plate on Friday, Collins saw 22 pitches. He’s going to work the count and sometimes he’s going to run into home runs.

“It was smooth,” Collins said. “I just kind of put the ball in play and the ball flew. I really don’t know. It was kind of a blur to me. It was obviously a big moment for me.”

Collins was called up Tuesday morning ahead of the first game against the Cubs. He didn’t play that game, but the pinch-hit walk on Wednesday helped take out some of the nerves.

“On Wednesday night I stepped up, I had a little bit of jitters, had a little bit of butterflies and stuff, but I think that was the point of getting in there on Wednesday and getting all that out,” Collins said. “It felt good tonight.”

Collins still hasn’t played catcher since he got called up. He was the DH in Friday’s lineup. That didn’t stop his dad from being excited about his first start.

“I was pumped,” Collins said of when he saw he was in the lineup. “I immediately texted my dad and told him I was in there. He told me good luck, play hard, do your thing. Obviously it started off well and we got a big win tonight so it was fun.”

As of the postgame interview, Collins didn’t yet have his home run ball. However, it sounded like he was able to make a deal with a fan for it.

“Somebody said they did get the ball,” Collins said. “I think I have to make a little trade with somebody.”

 

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WATCH: Zack Collins hits a three-run homer for his first MLB hit

WATCH: Zack Collins hits a three-run homer for his first MLB hit

Zack Collins started his MLB career in fitting fashion, with a walk.

In his next trip to the plate, he hit a home run.

Collins came on as a pinch-hitter Wednesday at the Cubs and drew that walk. Friday's game at Texas was his first start. The 2016 first-round pick entered the lineup as a DH and batted eighth.

He came up with two on and two out against Rangers starter Ariel Jurado. Collins, as he is known for, took the first three pitches before fouling off a curve on a 2-1 count. Then he took a slider deep to right-center.

Watch Collins' home run in the video above.

Collins is known for three things as a hitter: home runs, walks and strikeouts. Before getting called up from Triple-A Charlotte, Collins was hitting .250/.374/.482. He had nine home runs in 50 games with 36 walks and 66 strikeouts. He was sixth in the International League in walks while playing fewer games due to splitting time at catcher.

In a very short time period, Collins is showing what the White Sox thought they were getting when they drafted him 10th overall in 2016.

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