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Don Cooper: I Failed With Jeff Samardzija

By Bruce Levine--

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The relationship between White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper and right-hander Jeff Samardzija was a hot topic for most of the disappointing 2015 season. The communication level between the two type A personalities was tepid at best, and the results were unacceptable for the team and both individuals.

A guest on 670 The Score's "Inside The Clubhouse" on Saturday, Cooper took a great deal of responsibility for the up-and-down season Samardzija had in his one season with the White Sox. He went 11-13 with a 4.96 ERA and 1.29 WHIP.

"When I look at that relationship over the year, I failed," Cooper said about a season in which Samardzija gave up the most hits and runs in all of baseball. "We did not acquire him for any tweaks or changes. There were times he pitched his tail off all season. I think Jeff put a lot of pressure on himself. It was a big year for him. He had bet on himself a long time and was in a position of free agency. Coming into the year he was at the top of the heap. It did not work out for him."

Despite his 2015 struggles, Samardzija agreed to a five-year, $90-million deal with the Giants later Saturday. After obtaining him from the Athletics in December 2014, the White Sox tried to sign Samardzija on more than one occasion.

The inconsistent season he had was head scratching for everyone involved. And there were many individuals to blame for his struggles, Cooper said.

"I hate to diss the defense, but our defense was way below major league average in the first half," Cooper said. "Jeff and the other pitchers were impacted by that. Jeff and I are the same way in how we approach many things. The bottom line is it did not work. When I sit at home and think about last year, this is something that gets me. I have been doing this a long time and had good results and some bad with people. Sometimes I get the reputation of being a sourpuss, but that is because I listen to what's in my head about what we do here. I don't listen to writers or media and what they think. I know what I like, and I know what works. I know my success and failures. I don't need to be reminded of it. In my mind, this one (Samardzija) doesn't sit well with me. It wasn't what me, he or the White Sox wanted. I don't feel good about how it worked."

Cooper has had much success in his career and has been on the job as the Sox pitching coach since 2002. He's highly respected around baseball and, according to sources, one of the highest-paid individuals in his position.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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