Samardzija, Cubs win home spring opener

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).