Before taking the mound at Oracle Park for the final regular-season start with the San Francisco Giants, Jeff Samardzija sat on the dugout bench and thought about the memories he made during a five-year tenure with the club.
"It's like you're always going to be there, always going to have that opportunity," Samardzija said. "But we all know time goes by real fast. Looking at the stadium, it's tough. I've had a lot of fun here. I very much enjoyed my time here. I was taking it all in."
Samardzija didn't have much time to reflect after a 6-5 walk-off loss on Friday. The Giants designated him for assignment and placed him on unconditional release waivers with two days left in the regular season.
When the veteran right-hander returned from a seven-week stint on the injured list to face San Diego, he knew his Friday start against the San Diego Padres would be his last with a team that still has hopes of playing into October.
Samardzija understood the Giants only brought him back to the roster for Friday's doubleheader because their pitching depth was depleted, but he spent several weeks keeping his arm in shape at the team's Sacramento alternate site because he hoped to contribute to a team in the playoff race.
"It's not easy watching these guys grind and go through all the tough parts of the season and pick up innings here and there and you're not helping," Samardzija said. "It was just great to see these guys fight all year."
The outing was better than what Samardzija showed early in the season, but his three-inning stint left the Giants trailing 3-1 after Fernando Tatis, Jr. hit a 458-foot home run into the left-center-field bleachers.
Samardzija said he absolutely plans to pitch in 2021, but it's hard to know what the free-agent market will hold for a pitcher who signed a five-year, $90 million deal the last time he had the choice to play anywhere. After shoulder injuries hampered him in 2018 and 2020, it seems Samardzija's best hope of finding a new home in 2021 might come on a minor league deal that includes an invitation to spring training for a club in search of starting pitching depth.
The Giants returned Samardzija from the injured list as the 29th man for Friday's doubleheader, so the club will not make any corresponding roster moves on Saturday. Manager Gabe Kapler is in dire need of pitching depth and it's possible the team could option right-hander Sam Coonrod to the Sacramento alternate site and add another reliever after Coonrod blew a late lead for the second consecutive day on Friday.
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