Results tagged ‘ Kyuji Fujikawa ’
It was only 20, 25 pitches but it was the first time off a mound since he had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, and Cubs pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa said he is continuing to make progress. Fujikawa threw off a mound Monday for the first time since having the procedure done last June.
“It’s one step at a time and it’s a long process,” he said Wednesday through interpreter Ryo Shinkawa.
The right-hander, limited to 12 games last season, his first with the Cubs, said he didn’t hesitate during his side session.
“I didn’t have any doubts because I was throwing with pretty good intensity on flat ground,” he said.
“All I can say now is I’m playing light catch today,” he said. “Anything can happen each day. I’m following the medical staff and the [athletic] trainer’s plan and following the schedule.”
The Cubs are hopeful Fujikawa can pitch for the big league team this summer.
– Carrie Muskat
* Wednesday was the Cubs’ first full squad workout, which meant it was the first day of live batting practice. Nate Schierholtz got to face exactly who he needed in lefty Travis Wood. Schierholtz is hoping he can convince Cubs manager Rick Renteria to not platoon the outfielder against left-handed pitchers. Last year, Schierholtz batted .262 against right-handers and hit .170 against lefties, part of the reason he had to share right field.
“That’s a huge goal of mine is to play every day and not necessarily platoon as much,” Schierholtz said Wednesday. “That’s one of my big goals this spring.”
* Renteria met with each player on Wednesday, and was impressed by shortstop Starlin Castro, who is coming off a tough year in which he batted a career-low .245.
“He’s very excited,” Renteria said of Castro. “We liked the way he looked in our meeting. He was very happy. We just told him to be himself, expand on his skills and improve his approach at the plate. He spoke a bit more than we did. He has an idea of what he wants to do.”
* Even though Mike Olt’s primary position is third base, he was working out at first on Wednesday on the first day of workouts. The Cubs don’t have a backup first baseman, and top prospects Kris Bryant and Christian Villanueva were sharing third during the session.
* Kyuji Fujikawa, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, had a long toss session Wednesday, throwing from about 135 feet. He is making progress.
“As long as there is nothing that sets him back, he continues to move forward,” Renteria said.
* Somehow, Blake Parker was aligned with lefties Wesley Wright, James Russell, Tommy Hottovy, Tsuyoshi Wada and Zac Rosscup. Parker is the only right-hander in that group. Did he have to adjust to the southpaws?
“No — I just took my glove off and we did a strictly right-handed shake,” Wright said.
* Besides Wood, Jeff Samardzija, Chris Rusin, Carlos Villanueva and Kyle Hendricks threw live BP sessions on Wednesday.
* Thursday’s workout in Cubs camp will start at the normal time, with stretching at 9:30 a.m. Arizona time.
– Carrie Muskat
Kyuji Fujikawa is throwing this spring, and could be able to pitch in the big leagues by June. But he wasn’t able to recruit Masahiro Tanaka to sign with the Cubs. Fujikawa and Tanaka were teammates three times in the World Baseball Classic. After 12 seasons in Japan, Fujikawa left to sign a two-year contract with the Cubs in December 2012. But his 2013 season ended after 12 games because of elbow problems, and he eventually underwent Tommy John surgery last June.
All winter, Cubs fans were giddy over the possibility of the team adding Tanaka, a 25-year-old free agent, who eventually agreed to a seven-year, $155 million deal with the Yankees. Whether Fujikawa talked to Tanaka is unclear.
“I can’t really say much,” Fujikawa said Saturday. “It’s not for me to comment.”
Fujikawa says he didn’t talk to any Japanese players before signing with the Cubs. He could’ve asked Kosuke Fukudome about what it was like at Wrigley Field. Instead, the right-hander shifted the focus back to his rehab.
“I can’t really say anything about Tanaka, but for myself, I just want to say last year wasn’t my real self, and I’m trying to think about myself,” Fujikawa said through interpreter Ryo Shinkawa. “I can only talk about myself.”
Right now, Fujikawa is playing catch five, six times a week, alternating between a long toss day and a light toss day. He has yet to throw off a mound but is close.
“It was definitely tough while the season was going on and you have to understand you can’t be able to contribute, that was the tough part,” he said.
Fujikawa knows Cubs fans were interested in having the team acquire Tanaka.
“It’s a good thing that everybody was talking about him,” he said. “He has a strong heart, so he shouldn’t have a problem in New York. He’s used to it.”
– Carrie Muskat
* The Cubs are eager to see right-hander Arodys Vizcaino, 23, this spring. He’s been slow in rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, which he had in March 2012.
“I think his stuff is as good as anyone in this camp when he’s healthy and he’s healthy right now,” GM Jed Hoyer said. “As far as setting expectations for the beginning of the year or whether he breaks with the team or not or what his role will be, it’s too early for that. We’ll see him on the mound and see him in games and then make a decision later this spring.”
Vizcaino will be used in the bullpen.
* Another pitcher who is coming back from Tommy John surgery, Kyuji Fujikawa, also is making progress. He underwent surgery on his right elbow last June, and is now throwing off flat ground. In his last session, he threw 25 pitches, 20 for strikes.
“I don’t want to put any specific date timetables on him but he should be [throwing] off a mound here pretty soon,” Hoyer said. “Any time you have a Tommy John guy, you have concerns about setbacks. It’s been a really good process so far. He’s really excited about how good he does feel and how well the ball is coming out of his hand.”
Among the other pitchers to watch this spring are Justin Grimm, 25, who has the potential to be a closer, and Cuban right-hander Armando Rivero, 26, who pitched at Class A Kane County, high A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee last season as well as the Arizona Fall League. Rivero posted a 4.15 ERA in 20 Minor League games in relief combined, striking out 45 and walking 12 over 30 1/3 innings.
* Theo Epstein said they still have money in their budget to add players if needed this season.
“In the two previous offseasons, we’ve spent every dollar available to us and this is the first winter where we ended up keeping some in reserve to be used on players [that are] hopefully prime age, impact-type players down the road,” Epstein said. “It gives us a bit of a leg-up as we look toward next winter or an in-season move that might make the present and the future better.
“Rather than just spend the money to spend it, if we can book that and have it available to us to sign that international free agent who comes along in the summer or to acquire a player in a trade who carries a significant salary but fits for the long term, or to just start out next offseason knowing we can be a little more aggressive on the guys we really want early because the money will be availble to us, that made more sense than spending the money now just to spend it.”
* One thing the Cubs are focusing on is adding more pitching. Epstein said they will do so in the First-Year Player Draft, although not necessarily by picking a pitcher with their first-round selection. The Cubs have the fourth selection overall.
* Pitchers and catchers have their first workout on Friday.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs now have a bonafide closer. On Friday, the Cubs announced they have signed right-hander Jose Veras to a one-year, $3.85 million contract with a club option for 2015. There is a $150,000 buyout for 2015.
The Cubs did not chose to keep free agent Kevin Gregg after he saved 33 games last season, taking over for Carlos Marmol, who was traded to the Dodgers, and Kyuji Fujikawa, who needed Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
Veras, 33, combined to go 0-5 with 21 saves and a 3.02 ERA in 67 relief appearances between the Astros and Tigers last season. He struck out 60 and walked 22 over 62 2/3 innings, and compiled a .199 opponents batting average against. The right-hander began the season with Houston and posted a 2.93 ERA and 19 saves in 42 outings before he was traded to Detroit, where he made nine appearances and helped the Tigers reach the postseason.
In 2011, Veras ranked fifth in the National League with 27 holds in a career-high 79 appearances. He also was a member of the 2013 World Baseball Classic Dominican Republic club. Since the start of the 2011 season, he is tied for fifth in the Major Leagues with 218 appearances.
His contract with the Cubs includes incentives for an additional $750,000 based on games finished.
The Cubs’ bullpen is definitely stronger with Veras at the end. He joins lefty relievers James Russell, Wesley Wright and Zac Rosscup and right-handers Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon, Blake Parker, and Arodys Vizcaino.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs used nine different starting pitchers last season, including Scott Baker who started three games in September, and want to make sure they have enough depth. GM Jed Hoyer said Tuesday the goal is to add at least one and possibly two more starting pitchers before the season begins. So far, the rotation includes Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson and Jake Arrieta with Chris Rusin and Carlos Villanueva possibly getting starts. The Cubs have had talks with Baker’s agent about the possibility of the right-hander returning for another season. Baker spent most of the season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Whether that extra pitcher is Masahiro Tanaka has not been determined as Major League Baseball and the Japan baseball officials sort through the posting process.
“In general, we only need one starter in theory,” Hoyer said, “but we know we’ll go through a lot more starters. We’re in on a lot of starting pitchers and we could well sign more than one starter. That’s a possibility. Someone is going to be hurt, someone could go to the bullpen for a short amount of time. I feel it’s a dangerous game playing that ‘just enough’ starting pitcher game. Could we add more than one starting pitcher this winter? Absolutely.”
On Day 2 of the Winter Meetings, Hoyer and Theo Epstein continued their meetings with agents and teams.
“I think we’ve laid the groundwork and we’ll keep doing that,” Hoyer said. “It’s boring to say but that’s what you do here. You have meeting after meeting and try to kick ideas off each other. You hope that having the big group here and having everyone in the same building will lead to a little more creativity.”
* The Cubs may go to Spring Training and let the relievers battle it out for the closer’s job.
“In theory we can,” Hoyer said. “I think we have people on the roster who can certainly hold down that job. At that point, it would be on [manager Rick Renteria] to name a closer in Spring Training. I’m not sure that will happen or not. I think we have more power arms on the roster and we feel better about our bullpen. We do still want to add to it.”
The list of candidates includes Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, and Hector Rondon. However, the Cubs are looking at adding some relievers, and hoping the chance to be a closer could entice some free agents.
Renteria did admit that managing the bullpen is the “most critical part of the ballgame.” He’d like to have roles established for each pitcher.
* Kyuji Fujikawa is continuing his rehab from Tommy John surgery but most likely would not be back until May at the earliest.
– Carrie Muskat
* Monday was a big day for Kyuji Fujikawa. The right-hander, who was limited to 12 games with the Cubs because of arm problems that eventually resulted in Tommy John surgery on his elbow, threw a baseball for about five minutes Monday at Fitch Park in Mesa. It may not sound like much, but it was another step in his rehab. He had been able to play catch with a tennis ball, but Monday was the first time he was allowed to throw a baseball. Fujikawa has spent the summer in Mesa rehabbing three to four hours a day. Even though most pitchers need two years to recover from the surgery, Fujikawa said his goal is to be ready for 2014.
* Right-handed pitcher Daniel Bard, claimed off waivers from the Red Sox, is working out at Fitch Park as well as infielder Mat Gamel, whom the Cubs claimed from the Brewers. Bard was expected to throw off the mound Tuesday.
Gamel did not play this season after re-tearing his ACL early in Spring Training. Was he surprised the Brewers put him on waivers?
“As far as a business standpoint, I completely understand where they’re coming from,” Gamel said. “It’s unfortunate. In the same breath, I’m happy for the new opportunity and looking forward to it and am excited about it. It’s new life.”
He can play third and first, and originally came up as a third baseman. He’s been with the Brewers for eight years.
“I don’t know any other organization,” he said. “Maybe this will be a good fresh start for me.”
Gamel planned to train in Mesa this week. He wants to show the Cubs he’s healthy. He re-injured his leg at the eight-month mark of his rehab, which was supposed to take six to nine months.
“I think it worked well this time,” he said. “It feels good, it feels strong and that’s the important thing.”
* The Arizona Fall League gets underway Tuesday with the Mesa Solar Sox playing at Glendale against the Desert Dogs. Expect to see Jorge Soler in right field for most of the AFL games. Cubs prospects Albert Almora, Kris Bryant, Wes Darvill, Lendy Castillo, Dallas Beeler, Matt Loosen, and Armando Rivero also are on the Mesa roster. Beeler and Loosen will start.
* On Tuesday night, the Cubs’ instructional league team will play at 5:30 p.m. Arizona time at HoHoKam Park in Mesa. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are expected to be in town for the game.
* Cubs strength and conditioning coach Tim Buss will spend three weeks in November with Starlin Castro in the Dominican Republic to get the shortstop ready for the 2014 season.
* Cubs coach Franklin Font was headed to Venezuela soon to be a coach on Buddy Bailey’s Winter League team.
– Carrie Muskat
* Theo Epstein wasn’t worried about shortstop Starlin Castro, who was 4-for-42 (.095) and batting .243 overall.
“I just think he’s in a slump and he’s going to turn it around pretty soon,” Epstein said Tuesday. “It’s tough, and I feel bad for him that he’s going through this and obviously, we’d love better production, and hopefully we will get better production going forward. In a way, it shouldn’t be unexpected. Baseball is a game of failure and adjustments. You’d like your players to fail in the Minor Leagues so they see what it’s like and come to terms with that and make their adjustments. Starlin is so talented that he has never really failed before, so this is the first extended stretch of failure that he’s had.”
Castro never played at the Triple-A level, and has 995 Minor League at-bats. He is one of the core players the Cubs are relying on, Epstein said.
“In the long run, I think this will be good for him,” Epstein said. “He’ll find his way out of it, and be a better player for it, and the
next time he falls into a slump he’ll know how to get out of it quicker. I think Starlin’s approach will evolve over the
years as it does for most players when they get a few thousand at-bats under their belt.”
* Cubs officials enjoyed watching video of Javier Baez’s four home run night on Monday.
“It was quite a show,” Epstein said. “He sprayed it around, covered different parts of the strike zone, different pitches. His swing is really under control and that’s the great thing about Javy and his bat speed. He doesn’t have to swing for the fences. He can take a nice, normal under control swing, the type that would normally produce a line drive or a ball in the gap, and in his case there’s plenty of carry over the fences.”
Dale Sveum watched video of Baez’s blasts.
“I wish I could’ve seen where they landed,” Sveum said Tuesday. “The swings were pretty good. I’ve been watching the video anyway, but one good thing about it is he’s calmed down. He’s cut down his movement [on his swing] about 40 percent, 50 percent. It’s a lot more calm and controled.”
Baez, 20, the Cubs’ No. 1 Draft pick in 2011, was batting .291 with 13 home runs and 44 RBIs in 57 games. He’s also been charged with 26 errors.
“A lot of his errors have been extreme plays at the end of his range or weird things on rundowns or trying to do too much,” Epstein said. “He needs to polish that up. We actually feel better at this moment about his ability to play shortstop every day in the big leagues than we did on Opening Day because of the way he’s playing shortstop. He needs to clean it up but I have no doubt he can play shortstop at the big league level.”
* Kyuji Fujikawa underwent successful Tommy John surgery on Tuesday his right elbow. Orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews performed the procedure in Pensacola, Fla. An MRI in May revealed ligament damage to the reliever’s elbow. In 12 games this season, Fujikawa had a 5.25 ERA, giving up seven runs over 12 innings. This is his first season in the U.S. Major Leagues.
* Reliever Shawn Camp was scheduled to pitch one inning for Class A Kane County on Tuesday, his first Minor League rehab assignment since going on the disabled list with a sprained big toe May 22.
* Epstein is a little divided this week. He grew up a Boston Bruins fan but they are playing the Blackhawks in the NHL Stanley Cup final, which starts Wednesday in Chicago.
“Original six hockey is fantastic,” Epstein said. “The passion for the Hawks in town here reminds me a lot of the way it is for the ‘B’s in Boston. It’s going to be a heck of a series.”
And his pick?
“I’m hoping for a great series, good health all around,” he said diplomatically.
– Carrie Muskat
Cubs pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa was expected to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow Tuesday. Fujikawa will be examined by orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews on Monday. An MRI in May revealed ligament damage to the reliever’s elbow.
The right-hander felt some discomfort on the first pitch to the Reds’ Joey Votto in the ninth inning May 26. That was his second inning of work, and Votto was the seventh batter he faced in the game. He compiled a 12.46 ERA in five games in April before going on the disabled list April 13-May 10 because of a strained right forearm. When he returned, Fujikawa looked much sharper, and had given up one earned run over 7 2/3 innings in seven games for a 1.17 ERA.
In 12 games this season, Fujikawa had a 5.25 ERA, giving up seven runs over 12 innings. This is his first season in the U.S. Major Leagues.
* In the second round of the First-Year Player Draft, the Cubs selected Missouri left-hander Rob Zastryzny, who compiled a 3.38 ERA in 13 starts, striking out 82 over 90 2/3 innings.
“Talking to the scouts and [scouting and player development director] Jason [McLeod], [Zastryzny] finished well and can get to 94 [mph], has four pitches, and is a real good competitor,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “Obviously, the record he had didn’t show because of the team he was on. I think the more impressive thing is how he got better each year and finished his season real strong. He’s a guy who gets on the mound and competes with his fastball.”
Zastryzny, 21, was 2-9 but the Tigers averaged 2.5 runs per start. The lefty ranks eighth all-time in Missouri history with 228 strikeouts.
* Starlin Castro batted seventh for the third straight game Friday. The shortstop, who was batting .256 overall, was 1-for-8 in the first two games there after hitting second most of the season. How long will Sveum keep Castro lower in the order?
“I have no idea,” Sveum said. “There’s no timetable on it. Hopefully, we get him back swinging the bat and having quality at-bats and hitting the ball hard. It’s not even seeing thatt he gets hits but more the at-bats and hitting the ball hard.”
* The Cubs pitchers set a National League record with 19 RBIs in the month of May but success does have a price.
“Hopefully, they have as good a month in June as they did in May,” Sveum said. “They out-produced some of the other spots in the lineup. Not putting a downer on it, but now they get pitched a little tougher.”
* No date has been set for Kyuji Fujikawa’s surgery on his right elbow. Fujikawa needs Tommy John surgery, and the team has been waiting for the swelling to subside before setting a date. Reliever Shawn Camp threw his second bullpen Friday since going on the disabled list with a sprained right big toe. He’s making progress, Sveum said, as is reliever Rafael Dolis, on the DL with a strained forearm.
– Carrie Muskat