7/5/2014 5:53 P.M. ET
Samardzija to be missed by friends on Cubs
By Carrie Muskat and Daniel Popper / MLB.com
WASHINGTON -- While talking to reporters on Saturday afternoon, James Russell gazed across the visitors' clubhouse at an empty locker that formerly belonged to his friend and teammate Jeff Samardzija, whom the Cubs traded to the Athletics along with Jason Hammel late Friday night.
Russell said he and Samardzija met up briefly to say farewell after being informed of the deal.
"It's just tough to see your boys leave," Russell said.
Russell, a 14th-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, and Samardzija, a fifth-round pick in '06, came up together through Chicago's farm system and spent time as teammates for Triple- A Iowa before joining the Major Leagues. Second baseman Darwin Barney, a fourth-round pick in 2007, was also a part of those Minor League teams in 2009 and '10.
"Losing friends is tough in this game," Barney said. "It's not always that you find friends that you've been with since you've been drafted. Jeff's been in this organization for a long time and I've known him for a little bit. So it's hard. It's hard to lose a guy that's been here for eight years in this organization. And our goal all the way up has been to win a championship here in Chicago. And unfortunately, that's not his goal anymore."
Barney's goodbye with Samardzija was not as smooth as Russell's, though.
"It's always weird to say bye to a dude," Barney joked. "What do you do? Do you slap hands? Do you hug?"
The deal sent Samardzija and Hammel to Oakland for prospects Addison Russell and outfielder Billy McKinney, as well as right-hander Dan Straily. Russell becomes yet another talented middle infielder in the Cubs' farm system, which Barney said makes him uneasy, especially considering the front office's willingness to execute trades the past few seasons.
"In the back of your mind, you're thinking 'Who's next? Is it me?'" Barney said. "But you've got to try and put that aside and focus on today."
Starlin Castro, who is putting together an impressive 2014 campaign as the Cubs' starting shortstop, is taking a similar approach to Barney when it comes to Russell's addition.
"I don't put this in my mind," Castro said. "Just keep playing hard here and whatever happens, happens. It doesn't matter."
Manager Rick Renteria said he held a team meeting before the Cubs took the field for batting practice Saturday.
"I let them know that we've lost two teammates, two friends," Renteria said. "And the reality is that there are things that we can't control. And the things that they can control are continuing to play the game. Go out there and continue to grind them out. Go out there and keep doing what they're doing. Obviously those two guys set examples. … Let's show them what they've taught us, we can continue to do."
And James Russell, who could also be shopped before the non-waiver Trade Deadline at the end of the month according to multiple reports, is heeding his skipper's advice by viewing the situation in a positive light.
"Maybe in a year and a half we'll cross paths again and find ourselves in the same city," Russell said.
Cubs discussing how to fill rotation after trade
WASHINGTON -- With the loss of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel on Saturday, the Cubs are down two starting pitchers.
Samardzija was slated to start Saturday's contest against the Nationals. Chicago filled that hole by starting right-hander Carlos Villanueva, who's spent the last two months pitching out of the bullpen.
The Cubs' Sunday and Monday starters will stay the same as scheduled with Jake Arrieta capping off the weekend and Edwin Jackson facing the Reds in the series opener. The team will pick up a reliever on Sunday to fill out its 25-man roster.
For Tuesday, Cubs manager Rick Renteria said Triple-A Iowa left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada will start one game of the day-night doubleheader in Cincinnati as the 26th man. Travis Wood will start the other game, but Renteria said which pitcher would start which game is still being determined.
As far as Wednesday and Thursday, Renteria said he couldn't elaborate on who's in contention to start. Hammel would have been scheduled to go on Wednesday.
"We're still in conversations to see what direction to go in," Renteria said.
Renteria said Wada remaining in the rotation to fill one of the gaps left by the departure of Hammel and Samardzija is a possibility, but decisions have yet to be made about how the Cubs want to progress as far as their starting rotation for the remainder of the 2014 season.
Cubs hope Straily gets locked in at Triple-A
CHICAGO -- The Cubs are hopeful right-hander Dan Straily can get back on track after some time at Triple-A Iowa with pitching coach Bruce Walton.
Straily, 25, was one of three players the Cubs acquired Saturday from the Athletics for starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. Chicago also got highly touted shortstop Addison Russell and 19-year-old outfielder Billy McKinney in the deal.
Straily struck out 124 over 152 1/3 innings in 27 starts in 2013 for the A's, but struggled this season in seven starts, posting a 1-2 record and 4.93 ERA. He made 10 starts with Triple-A Sacramento.
"Let him take a deep breath after the trade, go to Triple-A, get locked in, and hopefully make an impact at the big league level," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said of Straily.
The Cubs took the same approach with Jake Arrieta last season when they acquired the right-hander from the Orioles in the Scott Feldman deal.
Russell, a first-round pick in 2012 who was the key piece in the trade, will report to Double-A Tennessee, and he could be in the lineup Sunday. Epstein said it was "a no-brainer for us that we had a chance to get Addison Russell."
McKinney, a first-round pick in 2013, will join Class A Advanced Daytona, where he'll join Albert Almora, the Cubs' No. 1 selection in 2012, in the oufield. Epstein said Almora is a pure center fielder, and McKinney can play all three outfield positions. A left-handed hitter, McKinney was batting .241 at Class A Advanced Stockton.
Cubs sign sixth-round pick Cease
CHICAGO -- The Cubs have signed Dylan Cease, a right-handed pitcher from Milton (Ga.) High School and their sixth-round pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, to a $1.5 million signing bonus, the fourth highest all time for a sixth-round pick and well above the slot value of $269,500.
The Cubs signed Cease knowing he will need Tommy John surgery, which he is scheduled to have on July 22. Cease was throwing 97 mph before he was hurt.
It's the 34th-highest bonus this year. According to MLB.com's Jim Callis, the Cubs had a great First-Year Player Draft, getting first-round pick Kyle Schwarber, considered the best college bat available, and using the savings to sign fourth-round pick Carson Sands ($1.1 million), fifth-round selection Justin Steele ($1 million) and Cease ($1.5 million).
The Cubs have signed their first 22 picks, and 25 of their first 27 taken in the Draft.
• The Cubs recalled left-hander Chris Rusin from Triple-A Iowa on Saturday. It is the second Major League stint for Rusin this season. He entered Saturday's game with no outs in the third inning.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. Daniel Popper is an associate reporter for MLB.com. He also can be found on Twitter @danielrpopper. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.