Jeff Samardzija is set to start on Opening Day for the Chicago White Sox. But if the A's had fared better in their Wild Card Game against the Kansas City Royals last year, it might be a different story.
"If we win that game that night, who knows, maybe I'm still with Oakland," Samardzija told USA Today. "But once we lost it, everything changed. I knew anything was possible, but I kind of got the feeling that Billy had this group of guys for a while, and it was time.
"I would have loved to have another shot with those guys the way it ended last year, but I was ready for anything.''
As it is, the A's lost 9-8 in the 12th inning and GM Billy Beane blew up the roster. And Samardzija -- a casualty that netted Oakland shortstop Marcus Semien, right-hander Chris Bassitt, catcher Josh Phegley and first baseman Rangel Ravelo -- will never forget how his A's tenure ended.
"I walked into our clubhouse after that game, and you don't know quite how you'll feel after a loss like that," Samardzija said. "Then, I saw it. I saw them ripping down the plastic. That's when it hit me. It's something you never forget."
[REWIND: A's season ends with collapse in KC]
The A's owned a four-run lead going into the eighth inning, needing six outs for a champagne celebration and a berth in the ALDS.
The 30-year-old Samardzija went 5-6 with a 3.14 ERA in 16 starts with the A's after he was acquired from the Cubs midseason. His second career trip to the postseason may have been spoiled by the Royals, but even he can still appreciate the Wild Card game ... to a degree.
"If I was just watching it as a fan,'' Samardzija said, "it was probably the best game I ever watched. But it was the toughest one as a player."