The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Pro

March 31, 2013

Burnett, Samardzija ready for opener

PITTSBURGH — Jeff Samardzija can only hope his performance today matches his last opening game in Pittsburgh.

Samardzija will start for the Chicago Cubs and A.J. Burnett for the Pittsburgh Pirates today as two teams with long streaks of futility meet on opening day. The Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908 and the Pirates haven’t had a winning season since 1992.

After losing 101 games last season, the Cubs will look for Samardzija to get them off to a better start in the second year of the Theo Epstein-Jed Hoyer administration.

This will be the first opening-day start for Samardzija, who went 9-13 with a 3.81 ERA in 28 games last year in his first full season as a starting pitcher.

As a junior wide receiver at Notre Dame in 2005, Samardzija caught three passes for 34 yards and one touchdown to help the Fighting Irish beat Pitt, 42-21, in Charlie Weis’ first game as coach. Samardzija went on to become a consensus All-America that year.

“That was a big moment for me, scoring my first college touchdown, but football seems so long ago now,” Samardzija said. “I’m a baseball player.”

Though he likely would have been a high-round pick in the NFL draft, Samardzija opted to play professional baseball and has established himself with the Cubs in the past two seasons. He went 8-4 with a 2.97 ERA in 75 relief appearances in 2011 before making the conversion to the rotation.

“He was one of the bright spots for us last year,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “He really did a great of moving into the rotation and being very consistent. He is one of the players we feel we can build around.”

Burnett will be making his first opening-day start of his 15-year career. He was the undisputed ace during his first season with the Pirates last year, going 16-10 with a 3.51 ERA in 31 starts after being acquired from the New York Yankees in a trade on the eve of spring training.

Burnett helped the Pirates stay in contention for a playoff spot into early September before they faded.

“I don’t know exactly what my emotions will be like because I’ve never pitched on opening day before, but I’m glad that it’s happening in Pittsburgh,” Burnett said. “I really love It here. Last year was the most fun I had in a long time. It’s a great group of guys to play with and the fans have treated me great.”

Burnett is considering retirement at the end of this season when the $82.5 million, five-year contract he signed with the Yankees expires. Burnett is 36 and his children are 12 and 9, so a more normal lifestyle is appealing.

However, Burnett has developed such an affinity for Pittsburgh that he would consider playing in 2014 if the Pirates are interested in having him back.

What Burnett would like to do is help the Pirates over the .500 mark. Their 20 consecutive losing seasons is the longest streak in major North American professional sports history.

Pittsburgh was 63-47 before play on Aug. 9 and finished 79-83.

“We flirted with .500 last year,” Burnett said. “It’s time for us to start winning. We’ve got a good enough team to do it. We need to get off to a good start, set a good tone early in the season, and go from there.”

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Pro
  • Pirates cut down by Reds’ Cueto

    April 23, 2014

  • Penguins 0422 Blown leads are troubling trend in series

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0421 Penguins finish hot to grab 2-1 series lead

    Brandon Sutter, Lee Stempniak and Jussi Jokinen scored in a span of 2:13 of the third period to revive the Penguins from yet another two-goal deficit in a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0421 Pirates walk off against Reds to halt home skid

    Ike Davis became the first player to hit grand slams for different teams in the same April, and Neil Walker had a winning run single with two outs in the ninth inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates twice overcame deficits to beat the Reds 6-5 Monday night.
    Pittsburgh trailed 2-0 before Davis’ fourth-inning homer off Mike Leake.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates Brawl 0420 Brewers top Pirates in game highlighted by dustup

    Ryan Braun homered in the ninth inning to tie it, then Khris Davis hit a home run in the 14th that put Milwaukee ahead for good.
    Yet those were hardly the big blows that attracted all the attention Sunday in the Brewers’ 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0420a Game 3 pivotal for both teams

    Not so long ago, the Columbus Blue Jackets were the worst team in the NHL.
    Now they’re heading home for tonight’s Game 3 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series with the star-studded Pittsburgh Penguins, hoping to make even more history.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0419 Blue Jackets outlast Pens in double-OT

    Matt Calvert banged home a rebound 1:10 into the second overtime and the Columbus Blue Jackets earned the first playoff victory in franchise history with a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.
    Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury stuffed the initial shot by Cam Atkinson but Calvert stood all alone at the left post and wristed a shot into the open net to even the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at one game each.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0419 Brewers rally to clip Pirates

    Ryan Braun hit two homers, including a two-run shot with two outs in the ninth inning that sent the Milwaukee Brewers over the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 Saturday night.
    Braun has five home runs this season after being suspended for the last 65 games of 2013 following Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Biogenesis drug scandal.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Area runners gearing for Boston Marathon

    The time was 12:15 p.m. It was Monday April 19, 1897.  Tom Burke had drawn a line across the dirt road with his foot. Eighteen men gathered near Metcalf’s Mill in Ashland, Massachusetts.

    April 19, 2014

  • Pirates 0418 Brewers ward off late Pirates rally bid

    Kyle Lohse pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Carlos Gomez homered and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 Friday night.
    Lohse (3-1) improved to 11-2 in his career against the Pirates, allowing one earned run in a win against them for the second time in six days.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
Order Photos


Photo Slideshow

House Ads