5/2 Extra bases
* Kyuji Fujikawa, on the disabled list with a strained right forearm, threw his second bullpen on Thursday and the next step could be a rehab outing with Triple-A Iowa on Sunday.
“His command and everything was much better,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of the right-hander. “Everything looked a lot crisper than the other day [in his first bullpen].”
Fujikawa could start the Minor League game to make sure he gets one inning of work. However, the Cubs do want to have him pitch in relief to get into his normal routine in preparation for his return.
* Cubs third basemen have combined for seven home runs in 27 games, most in the Major Leagues, and more than half of the entire season total in 2012. Luis Valbuena has hit five and Cody Ransom two so far. Last season, Chicago third basemen combined for 12 home runs.
* Starlin Castro moved down from the No. 2 hole to fifth for the second straight game, but Sveum said the move was more to take advantage of Ransom’s numbers against left-handed pitching. Castro is the Cubs’ No. 2 hitter.
“I see [Castro] as a two-hole hitter,” Sveum said of the Cubs shortstop, who has a career .303 average batting fifth and a .299 average batting second. “When everything is set correctly, he’s really a two-hole hitter. A lot of times you’d like a left-handed hitter there to hook the ball, and right-handed catchers have trouble throwing when a left-handed hitter is in the batter’s box.
“On our team right now, he’s a two-hole hitter,” Sveum said. “Obviously, he’s a hand-eye coordination guy who will put the ball in play and doesn’t walk much so maybe he’s more apt to hit at the bottom or the order because he can hit into some double plays and things like that. For the team we have now, he’s the second hitter.”
Ransom was 6-for-16 with three home runs against left-handed pitchers so far; Castro was batting .206 against left-handed pitching.
– Carrie Muskat