The Cubs introduced the newest member of their relief corps, Japanese import Kyuji Fujikawa, on Friday at Wrigley Field. Fujikawa is the first Japanese player to suit up for the Cubs since Kosuke Fukudome, who roamed the Wrigley outfield from 2008-11. In 12 seasons with the Hanshin Tigers of the Japanese Central League, the 32-year-old right-hander went 42-25 with 220 saves and a 1.77 ERA in 692.1 innings pitched. Fujikawa will likely pitch the seventh or eighth inning for the Cubs, as GM Jed Hoyer said Carlos Marmol remains the team’s closer.
Say goodbye to Len and Bob, and say hello to Len and JD. The Cubs welcomed new television analyst and former major league pitcher Jim Deshaies to the broadcast booth Wednesday morning in a press conference at Wrigley Field’s United Club. Deshaies, who recently completed his 16th season as an analyst for the Astros, said it was hard to leave Houston but that he couldn’t turn down what he considers the best broadcasting job in baseball.
“It’s going to be so much fun to be in a city where baseball matters no matter how the team is doing,’’ Deshaies said. “This place is a baseball-mad environment. The Astro guy had a hard time leaving Houston, but the baseball guy said this is the place to be.”
The Cubs kicked off the holiday season in fine fashion on Friday with the second annual lighting of the holiday tree and the grand opening of the Rink at Wrigley. Hundreds of fans were on hand to watch Tom and Todd Ricketts, David and Kim DeJesus, Fergie Jenkins, Congressman Mike Quigley and many others light the 30-foot tree, which is located in front of the famous Wrigley Field marquee. Chicago Cubs Charities and WGN also kicked off a toy drive at Wrigley. All presents will be donated to Jennifer Hudson’s Julian D. King Gift Foundation.
Rawlings has officially confirmed what Cubs fans have known all year: Darwin Barney’s glove is golden.
On Tuesday, Barney was named the NL’s best second baseman, earning his first Gold Glove Award in just his second season at the position. He beat out fellow finalists Brandon Phillips of the Reds and Aaron Hill of the Diamondbacks. Barney had the top fielding percentage in the league, at .997, while both Phillips and Hill had a .992 mark.
So how did Barney manage to unseat three-time winner Phillips and tie the major league single-season record for errorless games at 141? Hard work—and penty of it.
“[His work ethic] is as good as it gets,” said Dave McKay, the Cubs’ first base and outfield coach. “He’s out there every day. He’s out there right now working on it. He wants to be good. He wants to win a Gold Glove, and he wants it bad. He doesn’t take a day off.”
In the final days of the 2012 season, Vine Line sat down with Barney to talk about his defensive prowess, his relationship with mentor and former coach Ryne Sandberg, and his consuming drive to get better.
For years, Chicago Public League baseball teams haven’t had a true home-field advantage when the high school playoffs come around. Without a serviceable field to play on, city teams have been forced to trek out to the suburbs when the single-elimination tournament starts up each May. But that’s all about to change.
The Chicago Cubs Charities and the Wood Family Foundation broke ground on Kerry Wood Cubs Field Thursday, a high school baseball diamond located at Clark Park near Lane Tech High School about a mile west of Wrigley Field. The $5 million project should be completed in the first half of 2013. The stadium will seat 1,100 people and will have lights for potential night games.
Vine Line was there for the ceremony, where former Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood and Cubs co-owners Tom and Laura Ricketts spoke of the excitement surrounding this new venture.
Chicago comedian and actor Jim Belushi spent many afternoons at Wrigley Field when he was growing up and never misses a chance to come back. Vine Line talked to the Cubs superfan during his most recent trip to the Friendly Confines, where he was slated to throw out the first pitch. Belushi told us about the moment he officially became a Cubs fan, his fondest memory of Wrigley Field and what it’s like to spend time in his hometown.
To read the full interview, pick up the October issue of Vine Line featuring the best moments from the 2012 season, on sale now at Chicago-area retailers. Or subscribe to Vine Line, the official magazine of the Chicago Cubs, for just $29.95.
Former No. 1 draft picks Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters have been on a remarkably similar trajectory throughout their professional careers. Now they’re both trying to become core pieces of the Cubs’ future. Despite some struggles after their Aug. 5 call-ups, the duo has shown promise going forward.
“Becoming the player you want to become is a process,” Jackson said. “Creating the team you want to have is a process. I think it’s really important to learn to be patient with that process. As athletes, we want to see our results right away. We want to win every day. We want to have a winning season right away. You want to hit .300 with 50 homers right away. But I’m trying to learn that patience. I don’t think I’ll ever be patient enough to wait for something to happen because I’m always working to be the best player I can be so I can help this team be the best team that it can be.”
Vine Line got a chance to speak to the prospects about their similarities on and off the field, coming to the big leagues and being a member of the Cubs organization. To read the full interview, pick up the October issue of Vine Line, on sale at Chicago-area retailers. Or subscribe to Vine Line, the official magazine of the Chicago Cubs, for just $29.95.