Friday, January 19, 2007

Fighting Irish Chooses Mound over Gridiron

Former wide-receiver standout at Notre Dame, Jeff Samardzija has made his decision. Although he played with the thought of emulating Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders - playing both sports in a given year - Samardzija today ran towards the mound & not the endzone.

"I am pleased to announce that today I have reached an agreement on a five-year Major League contract with the Chicago Cubs," Samardzija said in a statement. "Consequently, I will devote my full time and attention to professional baseball and forgo a potential career in the National Football League."

The right-hander's deal includes club options for the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Samardzija, who will turn 22 on Tuesday, went 21-6 with a 3.82 ERA in 50 career appearances, including 31 starts, at the University of Notre Dame. In seven starts across two Class A levels with the Cubs in 2006, Samardzija posted a 2.70 ERA.

The Cubs agreed on a 5 year $10 million contract with the former Notre Dame star. Samardzija will begin next year at Class A Peoria under Hall of Fame second baseman, Ryne Sanderg. Instead of becoming a 12-year NFL pro in the Ed McCaffrey or Joe Jurevicius mold - as he had been projected - a much more unpredictable professional route will be travelled via the starting pitcher role.

The LaRoche for Gonzalez deal between the Braves and Pirates has been finalized. The acquisition of Rafael Soriano from Seattle paired with the power lefty Gonzalez has created a powerful bullpen that closes with veteran Bob Wickman. These are typical smart John Schuerholz moves.

Trot Nixon has signed a one year deal with the Cleveland Indians.

Andruw Jones voiced his desire to wear a Braves uniform for the duration of his career. What sounds like a rare declaration these days, Jones quickly changed his tune when asked about a hometown discount:
"I'm not saying I'll play for cheap when the market is so high; I won't do that. But I'm going to do my best to stay here. It's up to the Braves whether they want to keep me or not."
That's the professional athlete we know and love. However, it is fair to say Jones has been one of the top two defensive centerfielders in the NL throughout his ten year career. Jones is asking for an eight-year deal that would let him retire as a Brave and at 38 years-old.

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