3/6 Extra bases
* Hisanori Takahashi has pitched for the Mets, Angels and Pirates, coming to the U.S. Major Leagues in 2010. Has the Japanese left-hander given new Cubs pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa any tips on adjusting?
“I feel he’s an accomplished pitcher in Japan and since we’re from the same country, I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do over here,” Takahashi said Wednesday. “Some of the system, pitching-wise, might be a little different compared to what he’s used to in Japan. We’re kind of joking about stuff, and just having fun.”
Takahashi, 37, who is competing for a spot in the Cubs bullpen, made his first spring start and gave up three runs on five hits over three innings against the Rangers. He’s a non-roster invitee in Cubs camp, and didn’t know Fujikawa well.
“Him being an accomplished closer, I felt a closer has to be in his own world to do his job, and there was some mystery about him,” Takahashi said through interpreter Ryo Shinkawa. “Once I got to know him, he’s really friendly and a nice guy.”
Japanese ballplayers do train a little differently, but in exchange for longer days, they get an off day every fourth day. Takahashi did talk to Fujikawa about adjusting to the lifestyle in the U.S. Food isn’t a problem.
“There’s a lot of Japanese [restaurants] around, and I’m sure you guys all go for sushi,” Takahashi said.
The Phoenix area is well known for Mexican food.
“I love it,” Takahashi said.
* Fujikawa, Carlos Marmol, Shawn Camp and James Russell are locks for the bullpen. The Cubs will have to make a decision on Hector Rondon, the Rule 5 Draft pick, who threw one inning in relief Wednesday, giving up one hit and striking out one. He’s given up two hits over four innings in four games this spring. That leaves at least six players competing for two spots, including Takahashi, Blake Parker, Michael Bowden, Zach Putnam, Jensen Lewis, and Cory Wade. Parker missed most of last season because of an elbow injury.
“At this time last year, he opened your eyes a little bit with the life on his fastball,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Parker. “He has an above average slider that he can get swings and misses on. He’s interesting as well.”
* Brent Lillibridge is sidelined with a groin strain, injured one week ago. Lillibridge, a non-roster invitee who is competing for a spot on the bench, could return early next week. Being sidelined now doesn’t necessarily hurt his chances.
“He got to play,” Sveum said of Lillibridge who appeared in five games before he was injured. “It was nice before he got hurt that at least I got to see him at first, second, third and short. Toward the end he’ll play a little outfield.”
* Third basemen Ian Stewart and Josh Vitters, both sidelined with left quad strains, are making progress, and could get back in Cactus League games next week.
* Pitcher Matt Garza, still out with a strained left lat injured Feb. 17, apparently was feeling better.
“[Tuesday] was the most upbeat he’s been and the best he’s felt,” Sveum said, adding that the right-hander might try to play catch this weekend.
Garza was expected to miss the first month of the season.
– Carrie Muskat