Results tagged ‘ Kyuji Fujikawa ’

Cactus Notes: Fergie stops by the park and the Cubs prep for game action

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Cubs prospect Jorge Soler takes a swing at Cubs Park Tuesday.

The day kicked off Tuesday with Cubs legend Fergie Jenkins addressing the 66 players in major league camp and about 50 others from the minor league mini camp. The Hall of Famer talked about his time as a player and what it takes to survive in the major leagues.

In 10 years with the Cubs, Jenkins posted six consecutive 20-win seasons (1967-72) and four consecutive seasons with more than 300 innings (1968-71). During his Cy Young season in 1971, Jenkins went 24-13 with a 2.77 ERA and threw 325.0 innings with 263 strikeouts versus only 37 walks. Jenkins was joined by fellow Cy Young winner Rick Sutcliffe, who is in camp all spring as an instructor.

“I thought Fergie was good,” said Cubs manager Rick Renteria. “I don’t know that he’s ever spoken to the group like that, so it was nice to have him out there to talk to everybody. Here’s a guy who’s a Hall of Famer, who’s worked from a different era and brings in a different perspective … gives them a perspective of the things we should all appreciate about where we’re at.”

After about two weeks of practice, the Cubs will finally crank things up to game speed for the first time Wednesday in a six-inning exhibition game at Cubs Park. The contest will start at 1 p.m. local time, with Kyle Hendricks and Eric Jokisch facing off against one another.

“It’s a whole different atmosphere here,” Jokisch said. “You get to meet all the big league guys and the big league coaches and learn from them. I’m excited to get the games started.”

Other pitchers slated to see action are Marcus Hatley, Chang-Yong Lim, Neil Ramirez, Armando Rivero, Brian Schlitter, Arodys Vizcaino and Tsuyoshi Wada. Renteria has not yet decided on the lineups, but he said he plans to mix it up so both veteran players and prospects can see some live pitching before the Cactus League campaign kicks off Thursday.

“We’re looking forward to playing the game. We’re excited. They’ve been working hard, and they want to put their work to use. We’re looking forward to letting them play and finding out what things we’re going to have to continue to improve on,” Renteria said. “It’s going to be good for me and for the staff to see the guys just put themselves out there between the lines with a little bit more of a competitive aspect to the game. [They can see] where they’re at as far as timing, and pitchers obviously [will see] where they’re at with hitters in game-type situations, which is what we’re building up to do.”

Renteria also mentioned that Japanese reliever Kyuji Fujikawa, who underwent Tommy John surgery last June, threw a side session off the mound Monday. He threw some long toss and about 20-25 pitches off the mound, and it went very well.

“He gave me the thumbs up that it came out well,” Renteria said. “Like all our guys that are improving their health, we’re just going to take it one day at a time and continue to be patient and hope that they continue to progress.”

Cubs recall Putnam, option Burnett to Iowa

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

The Chicago Cubs today selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Zach Putnam from Triple-A Iowa and optioned right-handed pitcher Alex Burnett to Triple-A. To make room for Putnam on the 40-man roster, right-handed pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. It was announced yesterday the 32-year-old Japanese reliever will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery.

Putnam, 25, will be available for the Cubs this afternoon against the White Sox at Wrigley Field. So far this season, he is 1-1 with four saves and a 3.26 ERA (7 ER/19.1 IP) in 17 relief appearances with Iowa. He has struck out 22 and walked only six in 19.1 innings, an average of 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings. Putnam has a 0.82 ERA (1 ER/11.0 IP) in his last 10 outings beginning April 28.

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound right-hander has a 1-1 record and a 4.82 ERA (5 ER/9.1 IP) in 10 major league relief appearances since making his debut with Cleveland in September 2011. In 2012, he had two scoreless appearances for the Rockies (2.0 IP) in two stints with the major league club.

Putnam is 20-13 with 30 saves and a 3.86 ERA (135 ER/315.0 IP) in 188 career minor league games, all but 15 as a reliever. He was originally selected by Cleveland in the fifth round of the 2008 draft before Colorado acquired him in January 2012 for pitcher Kevin Slowey. The Cubs claimed Putnam off waivers from Colorado in November 2012.

Burnett, 25, was claimed off waivers from Baltimore on Monday and tossed a scoreless ninth inning yesterday in his Cubs debut.

Cubs activate Fujikawa from 15-day DL

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

The Chicago Cubs today activated right-handed pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa from the 15-day disabled list. In a corresponding move, right-handed pitcher Rafael Dolis was optioned to Triple-A Iowa.

Fujikawa, 32, landed on the disabled list on April 13 with a muscular strain of his right forearm. In two rehabilitation games between Triple-A Iowa and Double-A Tennessee, he tossed three scoreless innings of relief, allowing one hit, walking one and striking out two. He needed just 16 pitches to throw two scoreless innings in his final outing on May 8 against Double-A Birmingham.

In his first major league season with the Cubs, Fujikawa is 1-0 with two saves and a 12.46 ERA (6 ER/4.1 IP) in five relief appearances. He has held opponents scoreless in three outings, but allowed three runs apiece in his other two games.

Fujikawa pitched 12 seasons (2000, 2002-12) for the Hanshin Tigers of the Nippon Professional Baseball League, compiling a 42-25 record with 219 saves and a 1.77 ERA (136 ER/692.1 IP) in 562 appearances, all but 14 in relief. He signed a two-year deal with the Cubs this offseason, including a vesting/club option for a third season.

As manager Dale Sveum recently named Kevin Gregg the team’s closer, Fujikawa will likely assume eighth inning duties.

Dolis, 25, has not allowed an earned run in two relief appearances (1.2 IP) spanning two stints with the Cubs this season. He has posted no record, one save and a 3.52 ERA (3 ER/7.2 IP) in eight relief appearances with Iowa.

Cubs place Fujikawa on 15-day DL

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Kyuji Fujikawa gave up three earned runs Friday in the Cubs comback win over the Giants. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty)

The Chicago Cubs today placed right-handed pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa on the 15-day disabled list with a muscular strain of his right forearm and recalled right-handed pitcher Rafael Dolis from Triple-A Iowa.

Dolis, 25, has posted no record and a 3.86 ERA (1 ER/2.1 IP) in three relief appearances with Iowa this season. He has seen action with the Cubs each of the last two seasons, going 2-4 with four saves and a 6.18 ERA (27 ER/39.1 IP) in 35 career big league relief appearances.

The right-hander made the Cubs’ Opening Day roster last season and had three stints with the club, going 2-4 with four saves and a 6.39 ERA (27 ER/38.0 IP) in 34 relief outings. Dolis held left-handed hitters to a .141 batting average (9-for-64), but right-handed batters hit .388 (31-for-80) against him.  With Iowa last season, Dolis went 0-1 with three saves and a 2.51 ERA (4 ER/14.1 IP).

Fujikawa, 32, has started his Cubs career 1-0 with two saves and a 12.46 ERA (6 ER/4.1 IP) in five relief appearances. He signed a two-year deal with a vesting/club option for a third season this past offseason.

Cubs Fujikawa among top projected rookies

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

People like to say that age is just a number. Apparently, Baseball America feels the same way.

The respected baseball publication unveiled its list of Preseason Top 20 Rookies for 2013 on Wednesday. Hyun-Jin Ryu (26 years old) of the Dodgers, Will Myers (22) of the Rays and Jurickson Profar (20) of Texas sat atop the list, but 32-year-old Cubs reliever Kyuji Fujikawa was ranked No. 20. Aside from Ryu, no one else on the list was older than 24, and 12 players were 22 or younger.

The North Siders agreed to a two-year, $9.5 million deal with Fujikawa in early January. The righty totaled 220 saves in 12 seasons with Japan’s Hanshin Tigers and is projected to slot in as a late-innings arm in 2013. Here is what BA had to say about the pitcher:

20. Kyuji Fujikawa, rhp, Cubs

Age: 32. Finished Last Year: In Nippon Professional Baseball.

Best Case: Fujikawa provides the antidote to incumbent closer Carlos Marmol’s highwire act, assuming the ninth-inning role early in the season thanks to a low-90s heater and mid-80s splitter.

Worst Case: No Japanese pitcher has notched 20 saves in a season since Takashi Saito did so for the 2007 Dodgers. In fact, the most recent imported NPB closer, the Indians’ Masahide Kobayashi in 2008, ran up a 5.10 ERA in 67 appearances over two seasons.

Competition: A lock for an important bullpen role, Fujikawa could unseat Marmol as closer or Shawn Camp as set-up man.

Former Cubs prospect Chris Archer, a right-handed pitcher who was the centerpiece of the Matt Garza trade, was 17th on the list. Last year’s list included names like Matt Moore (No. 1), Mike Trout (No. 5) and Bryce Harper (No. 10).

Fujikawa creates a new media landscape

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When new Cubs reliever Kyuji Fujikawa was officially introduced to the media in early December, there was something decidedly different about the Wrigley Field home clubhouse, where the event was being held. The usual press contingent had nearly doubled in size, thanks to the addition of the Japanese press corps.

Ever since Hideo Nomo broke into the major leagues in 1995, the Japanese press has been dogged in following former Nippon Professional Baseball stars in America. When celebrated pitcher Yu Darvish joined the Rangers last season, the team added an auxiliary pressroom and boosted Wi-Fi capabilities at their Spring Training home in Surprise, Ariz., just to handle the additional demands.

This, of course, isn’t the Cubs’ first experience with a Japanese player. Outfielder Kosuke Fukudome played for the team from 2008-11. In Fukudome’s first season—a season that saw him make the N.L. All-Star team—the group of reporters following him was fairly sizable, especially at Spring Training, but the numbers dwindled as the years went on.

The major difference in coverage is that the Japanese press is there to follow a single player, not the team as a whole. So the Cubs would hold a separate press availability with Fukudome after games for the Japanese media, who were described as unfailingly polite and professional.

“The Japanese media were a delight to be around,” said Bruce Miles, the Cubs beat writer for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago. “Those of us who have been around awhile were looking forward to the Fujikawa news conference to see how many of our Japanese media friends would attend.”

Fujikawa, who notched 220 saves in 12 seasons with the Hanshin Tigers, made an uneven first appearance for the Cubs in an intrasquad matchup Friday, facing four batters and walking one. Following the game, he first talked to the American media, while the phalanx of Japanese reporters waited for him outside. Then he left the clubhouse to talk to about 15 members of the Japanese press who were there to see his initial outing.

“It wasn’t my first time throwing in Arizona, but in a game situation, it was a first,” Fujikawa said through his interpreter. “I don’t know how much different it will be in Chicago, but first I need to adjust to this Arizona weather. … I’ve heard that from other players that there isn’t much movement on the ball.”

To handle the language barrier—Fujikawa speaks “baseball English”—the Cubs have hired an interpreter, Ryo Shinkawa, who will be with Fujikawa at all times, including in the dugout. When the right-hander entered the game Friday, Shinkawa even went out to the mound with him so the pitcher could communicate more effectively with catcher Rafael Lopez.

Cubs vs. Cubs round two, Maysonet hits walkoff blast for team White

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Though the Cactus League season doesn’t officially get started until tomorrow, it was Cub on Cub again Friday afternoon at HoHoKam Stadium in Mesa, Ariz. Former Brewer and Astro Edwin Maysonet propelled the White team to a 6-3 win with a “walk off” three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth off reliever Jensen Lewis. Of course, being Spring Training, the Blue team still had to get the last out, so the game wasn’t officially over until the next batter, Brent Lillibridge, grounded out to short.

There were some standout offensive performances in the brief, five-inning game. Manager Dale Sveum praised the hitters, who seemed to be a little ahead of the pitchers today. Between both sides, there were eight free passes issued in the game.

“Any time you’re getting quality at-bats [you're happy],” Sveum said. “And quality at-bats are sometimes are just that—just not swinging at pitcher’s pitches, the borderline strike, getting yourself out quick, getting yourself out in fastball counts, those things. That’s what we’re trying to eliminate is quick outs because of bad pitch selection.”

Blue team center fielder Brett Jackson’s retooled swing was on full display Friday, as he finished the day 3-for-3 with two doubles, a run scored, an RBI and a stolen base. Jackson struggled in his first call-up to the big leagues last season, hitting just .175 with four home runs, nine RBI and 59 strikeouts in 120 at-bats. He spent most of the offseason at the Cubs practice facility in Mesa reworking his swing to produce more contact.

“It’s a big confidence boost,” Jackson said. “I worked really hard this offseason. To make a muscle memory-type adjustment is a pain in the [butt], so to see results is good. I’m going to keep pounding on that to keep reinforcing so that it [becomes] second nature.”

Designated hitter Dave Sappelt, who is in a good position to win an extra outfield spot on the 2013 squad, also went 3-for-3 with a little help from the Arizona sun. He singled in the first, doubled in the third and hit a deep, soaring pop fly in the fifth that White team center fielder Matt Szczur lost in the bright sky.

“I’m not too concerned about Sappelt,” Sveum said. “The guy has put himself in that category where he can kind of just hit.”

Utility infielder Luis Valbuena also drilled a two-run home run off reliever Micheal Bowdon to tie the game 3-3 in the fourth.

The press corps was a little larger at the park today because Japanese import Kyuji Fujikawa was making his Cubs debut. Though he didn’t look particularly sharp, he did work one scoreless inning of relief. After the game, Fujikawa commented that several Cubs pitchers told him about how the dry Arizona air affects the way a ball moves.

“He’s a veteran guy who’s thrown a lot of innings in key situations in Japan,” Sveum said. “But you do want to see him in key situations against really good National League and American League hitters. Just to see how it all matches up.”

The Cubs will play their first official game at 1 p.m. local time tomorrow afternoon against the Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

1000 Words: East Meets West

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

New Cubs reliever, Japanese import Kyuji Fujikawa, dials it up at Fitch Park in Mesa, Ariz. Fujikawa, who tallied 220 saves and a 1.17 ERA in 12 seasons with the Hanshin Tigers of the Nippon Professional Baseball league, signed a two-year, $9.5 million deal with the Cubs in December. He became the second Japanese player in Cubs history, following Kosuke Fukudome, who was with the Cubs from 2008-11.

Day two of the bunting competition

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

The first round of the bunting competition continued Tuesday, and the crowd was a little bigger than normal because new reliever Kyuji Fujikawa was on the docket. Fujikawa has about a dozen members of the Japanese media following his every move in the early days of camp.

Unfortunately, his stay in the tourney was short-lived. He struggled to keep the ball in the scoring zones and was eliminated by pitcher Blake Parker.

Manager Dale Sveum, who has been doing the majority of the pitching during the competition, added a little excitement to the proceedings when he buzzed a few batters up and in. As the tourney progressed, his delivery and location became more erratic, which prompted a few catcalls from the players. He was eventually relieved on the mound by Franklin Font.

“I’ve got a pretty good blister, and I just wasn’t even feeling the ball too much,” Sveum said. “I threw a little bit too much to the front office the other day, and my finger is a little bit raw.”

In other Tuesday first-round matchups:

Jeff Samardzija defeated Rafael Dolis

Michael Brenly defeated Dioner Navarro

Jaye Chapman defeated Carlos Villanueva

Brent Lillibridge defeated Brad Nelson

Darnell McDonald defeated Josh Vitters

Brett Jackson defeated Welington Castillo

Alberto Cabrera defeated Cory Wade by default (Wade was a no-show)

Spring Training Preview: In the Bullpen

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

Baseball is finally back. Pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training this past weekend, and Cubs fans everywhere got a little more excited with the realization that the baseball season is almost here.

To get us back into gear, the February issue of Vine Line previewed the squad heading into Mesa, Ariz. We broke the team down into five categories—starting pitching, relief pitching, infielders, outfielders and catchers—to give fans a clearer picture of what to expect when the Cubs break camp and head to Chicago.

Below is a look at the bullpen. The February issue is on newsstands now, with single issues available by calling 800-618-8377. Or visit the Vine Line page on Cubs.com to subscribe to the magazine.


After a brutal start to the season and a demotion from the closer’s role, Carlos Marmol seemed to be back near peak form by the end of 2012. In 29.2 innings after the All-Star break, Marmol converted 12 of 13 saves, posted a 1.52 ERA and struck out 39 batters. However, there is speculation he may be traded before the season starts, which would open the door for new Cubs reliever Kyuji Fujikawa, 32, to assume closing duties. The Japanese import, who has closed in Japan, has a variety of pitches but relies mostly on his low-90s fastball and splitter.

Besides Marmol and Fujikawa, James Russell and Shawn Camp are the only bullpen arms who had strong 2012 seasons. However, relievers are the most inconsistent commodities in baseball, and one can never assume that previous success guarantees the same in the future.

There are several names that could step up in the bullpen. Arodys Vizcaino, acquired from the Braves last season, is recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Though the Cubs hope he can be a starter in the long run, he could also help as a reliever this season. Jaye Chapman, who showed his change-up could be a devastating out pitch, was impressive in limited duty toward the end of 2012. Players like Alberto Cabrera, Tony Zych (a 2011 draft pick who drew positive reviews in the Arizona Fall League) and former top prospect Trey McNutt could each surprise and end up as important cogs in the late innings.

Plus, with the Cubs’ surplus of starters, pitchers like Scott Feldman, Carlos Villanueva or Travis Wood could end up spending significant time in the ’pen.

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