5/13/2013 7:45 P.M. ET
Samardzija talks contract after Rizzo's extension
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro signed a long-term deal last August and first baseman Anthony Rizzo received a new contract Monday. What about Jeff Samardzija?
"It's not really important to me, to tell you the truth," Samardzija said Monday. "I'm the type of guy who the play speaks for itself, and if you're healthy and do everything you're supposed to do, like those guys do, and most importantly, do what it takes to win ballgames, that's what it's all about. I'm a little older than they are -- I wouldn't mind being 22 or 23 again -- but baseball-wise, I'm still pretty young. That stuff comes as the game goes."
In Spring Training, the 28-year-old Samardzija said he wanted to pitch first, then talk contract. That's still the way he's looking at it.
"We're still in only the second month of the season," said Samardzija, who is 1-5 with a 3.70 ERA and has not won since Opening Day. "Coming in and starting Opening Day and pitching every fifth game from there, I've felt great. I'm excited to get into the summer and get into August and get toward that high-innings count and see where I'm at as a starter. Nothing has changed. The games that happen out here are the most important for me, personally."
He didn't ask to table negotiations.
"I know they have a lot of things on their minds right now," Samardzija said of the Cubs' front office. "We have an understanding that we both want to be here, and both want me here, and that's a great place to be. It's up to me to do my job on the field."
The right-hander recognizes that players are paid based on what they do on the field.
"I want my play to determine how everything goes down," he said. "I have high expectations for myself and this team. That comes first. I feel everything after that will fall into line for me, personally."
Rizzo's extension continues trend started with Castro
CHICAGO -- The Cubs might want to save manager Dale Sveum some time and have lineup cards printed with Anthony Rizzo's name in the No. 3 spot after the first baseman signed a seven-year, $41 million contract extension on Monday that includes two club options.
"In my position, it's nice to have a guy projected for 30 [homers] and 100 RBIs in your lineup for the next seven-to-whatever years, especially with his makeup and defensive ability," Sveum said. "It's pretty important to all of us -- the city and the organization -- to have somebody like that locked up for that long. It's a pretty special day for all of us."
Rizzo, 23, is the second young Cubs player to receive a long-term extension. Shortstop Starlin Castro was rewarded with a seven-year, $60 million contract last August.
"Now, you don't have pressure," Castro said. "You have your contract, your family is good. The only thing you have to put in your mind is play hard and help your team win."
With the two signings, general manager Jed Hoyer sent a clear signal as to who the Cubs plan to build their team around.
"This is just the base and the start of things to get these core players, those position players who you have control over for a long time and can stay here and be something special," Sveum said.
Castro, 23, wasn't surprised to see Rizzo get the large contract.
"I knew it was coming," Castro said. "If it happened to me, I think the next one was him."
Who's next? Castro wouldn't say. But Rizzo does give young players the same message.
"[The front office] has been watching me since I was 17," Rizzo said. "They've seen me develop, they've seen me make my mistakes, and they're going to continue to see me develop and do good things and bad things. What I tell the young guys is work hard. You can always control working hard. Once you get labeled as slacking off by one coach, that can stay with you for a long time. That's the message I try to send.
"Last year, at this time, I was in Triple-A and wondering when that call was going to come, and it's just the hard work pays off. Five years ago at this time, I was in a hospital waiting on my first treatment for cancer. It's crazy how everything has come full circle."
Now, the focus is on playing winning baseball.
"The only thing I think about is that: winning here," Castro said. "I know it'll be unbelievable. That's why those people up there started signing players for long-term deals, to be here when the team becomes good every season. I think it's very soon."
Garza eyes next rehab start, potentially his last
CHICAGO -- Matt Garza's next Minor League rehab outing will be Thursday for Triple-A Iowa, and the Cubs will make a decision after that as to whether the right-hander is ready to be activated from the disabled list.
Garza is rehabbing from a left lat strain suffered in Spring Training. He gave up three hits, walked two and struck out two over 3 1/3 innings Saturday for Double-A Tennessee. It was his third Minor League rehab start, and he threw 66 pitches, 40 for strikes.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Garza threw with a lot of "aggressiveness" in his Monday bullpen session.
"We just have to get him built up, so he can at least go out there for [six innings]," Sveum said.
• Third baseman Luis Valbuena, who sprained the little finger on his right hand sliding into third base Saturday, was available to pinch-hit for Monday's series opener against the Rockies. Valbuena has his little finger and ring finger taped together while he does drills.
He will not start Tuesday against Rockies lefty Jeff Francis, so Valbuena will get at least one extra day to rest, Sveum said.
• Cubs pitcher Edwin Jackson hosted his fourth "Edwin's Entourage" event Monday at Wrigley Field. He created the event to create awareness of baseball for younger African-American males. More than 40 participants from local youth leagues, ages 11-18, took part.
• Arodys Vizcaino, who is on the 60-day disabled list recovering from Tommy John surgery, was in Chicago on Monday to be examined by the team doctors. The right-hander, whom the Cubs acquired in July 2012 from the Braves in the Paul Maholm deal, underwent the surgery early in 2012.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.