Samardzija and Cahill look ready

Jeff Samardzija looks ready to build on his strong 2012 season. Matt Kartozian/USA TODAY Sports

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Some notes on Monday's Chicago Cubs-Arizona Diamondbacks tilt at Salt River Fields.

&bull; Jeff Samardzija was mostly the Good Shark on Monday, working at 93-96 mph for much of his outing, keeping the ball down, flashing a plus slider at 83-87 as well as a cutter at 90-91. He had one bad inning where he was getting way too much of the plate, walking pitcher Trevor Cahill (a felony) and then allowing a homer to Adam Eaton (whose home run trot was so fast he nearly caught up to Cahill as they approached home plate), as well as two other hard-hit balls in the inning.

"One bad inning" is often an excuse -- other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how'd you like the game? -- although the positive for Cubs fans is that Samardzija's stuff looked strong and he had stretches where the command was actually good, especially side to side. He also homered off a lefty, so perhaps he can pinch-hit for Darwin Barney a few times this year.

&bull; Cahill was 89-90 with his usual sink and his slider had good tilt, mostly finishing down in the zone or below it for the swing and miss. He threw strikes and, as you'd expect, generated ground balls. Based on this look, he just needs to get stretched out for the season.

&bull; The one significant pitching prospect who threw on Monday was Arizona lefty David Holmberg, a command-and-control specialist with three average-or-better secondary pitches but a fringe-average fastball. Holmberg was 86-89 with better life at the lower end of that range, and threw several plus changeups at 80-82, mostly to right-handed batters. The slider was average at 76-79, while he just flashed the low-70s curveball, although in warm-ups it had tight rotation given its velocity.

Holmberg's command wasn't quite there on Monday and he caught too much of the plate, especially in his second inning of work, eventually seeming to abandon any kind of plan of attack as he just tried to throw strikes. (He allowed 5 runs in 1 1/3 innings.) Holmberg's delivery is smooth and he's online to the plate, but his arm speed is just so-so and despite his 6-foot-4, 220-pounds frame, he's probably never going to pitch with a solid-average fastball. On days when his command is plus and he's got one of the two breaking balls working, he can be effective, but his ultimate ceiling is probably fourth starter.

&bull; Jorge Soler had three at-bats, striking out on a changeup from Holmberg in the first one and on a slider down in his last one, with a hard single on a first-pitch 88 mph fastball in between the two. Javier Baez didn't have a great day at the plate, taking some giant hacks without any results, although he looked solid at shortstop, showing off a plus arm on several plays back in the hole. Brett Jackson's Fabulous New Swing didn't get much play in two plate appearances, as he walked on five pitches and then golfed a fly ball to left.

&bull; One final note on the game -- Hector Rondon, the Cubs' rule 5 pick from Cleveland this year, was disappointing at 90-93 with no life on the fastball and a slurvy slider at 77-78. Rondon had Tommy John surgery in mid-2010 but has thrown just 10 innings in the minors since the surgery, as well as 21 innings in Venezuela this winter. He used to have more velocity and some more life to the fastball, but the version I saw on Monday wouldn't be more than a 12th man on a staff. (Note: No team needs to carry 12 pitchers.)

&bull; Two unrelated notes: First, for those of you looking for me at spring training games, I try to tweet something each morning about where I'm going, but I often don't know where I'm going until a few hours before game time. Second, my new podcast, Behind the Dish, debuts on Tuesday on the ESPN Podcenter, featuring an interview with Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, plus a conversation with fellow writer Joe Sheehan about Mariano Rivera's legacy.