MESA, Ariz. -– Jeff Samardzija wore an A’s uniform for less than three months, but that was enough to make a lasting impression.
That was evident from the comments coming from Oakland’s clubhouse before Samardizja took the mound Sunday at Hohokam Stadium in his Cactus League debut. Samardizija gave up two runs over three innings in his first start for the White Sox since the A’s dealt him to Chicago in December.
The White Sox handed the A’s their first loss this spring, 10-4.
“When it’s his day, his goal is to go nine innings,” A’s reliever Ryan Cook said. “That’s the type of mentality he has. Amazing guy. Great, great person. It was awesome for our clubhouse. He fit right in immediately. Talk about a guy that wanted to win.”
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Samardzija, always an early arrival on his start days, showed up to Hohokam more than two hours before the scheduled 1:05 p.m. first pitch. He stopped by the A’s clubhouse to visit before making his way across the field into the visitor’s clubhouse.
Afterward, he told reporters that the outing had an Opening Day-like feel for him. And he had nothing but glowing things to say about the A’s, who swung a July 5 trade last season to get him and right-hander Jason Hammel from the Cubs for the stretch drive.
“That was a fun team to play for,” Samardzija said. “It was a great time for me. There are a lot of guys over there and you don’t get a lot of whining or crying. They like to surround themselves with baseball players, guys who don’t mind getting dirty and who love the game for what it is and not what it can do for them. You get 25 guys like that, it ends up being pretty fun.”
Then Samardzija threw in this nugget: “Maybe, if everything aligns just right, I’ll get another chance to pitch in the Bay Area.”
That doesn’t figure to be with Oakland. At least not after this season, when Samardzija is scheduled to hit free agency and command a contract that will almost definitely be out of the A’s price range. But it seems he won’t soon be forgotten.
“He felt like from the minute he walked into the clubhouse that he’d been here a while,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Just his personality fit in from day one.”
CAMP BATTLE: Drew Pomeranz threw two scoreless innings for the A’s in his first spring start. The lefty struck out four and walked one, but he had to work hard, stranding a runner at third in each inning.
He had a good fastball and curve working, and if anything, said he just had to harness his command with so much adrenaline flowing in his first outing. Like last season, Pomeranz plans to work full-time out of the stretch again in 2015.
“I had the best year I’ve ever had like that,” he said. “I don’t see any reason to switch it.”
It wasn’t such a good day on the hill for reliever Tyler Clippard. In his second appearance of the spring, Clippard walked his first two hitters and wound up charged with four runs in two-thirds of an inning.
He was relieved by switch pitcher Pat Venditte, who endured his first rough outing. Venditte surrendered two-run doubles to the left-handed hitting Adam Eaton and the right-handed hitting Jose Abreu.
LIGHTER SIDE: Cook, who went to USC, had a metal Trojan helmet sitting next to his locker Sunday morning. It was the reward for last fall’s USC victory over the Cardinal in football. Cook had a bet with outfielder Sam Fuld and former A’s shortstop Jed Lowrie, who both attended Stanford. The loser had to spend $100 at the opposing school’s bookstore.
Cook said he received full Trojan attire from both players, including a sword.
ODDS AND ENDS: Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, on the mend from Tommy John surgery, will throw off the mound Tuesday. And Melvin said if all goes well for Parker, he could face hitters Friday. … Catcher Stephen Vogt is scheduled to be behind the plate for his exhibition debut Monday against the Texas Rangers in Surprise. Jesse Hahn starts on the mound. … Lefty Sean Nolin, recovering from sports hernia surgery, was scheduled to throw on flat ground Sunday.