Results tagged ‘ Kyuji Fujikawa ’
The Cubs are no longer going with a closer by committee. Kevin Gregg has won the job. Gregg is 5-for-5 in save situations since he joined the Cubs April 15. The right-hander was in the Dodgers’ Spring Training camp, then released on April 3. He signed with the Cubs on April 14.
“The problems we had, it was a great, great pickup and he’s ran with it, and done a heck of a job,” Dale Sveum said of Gregg, who has replaced Carlos Marmol, who was replaced by Kyuji Fujikawa. “[Gregg] is a veteran guy who doesn’t panic. He’s been in those situations before. Those last three outs aren’t made for everybody. He throws strikes and has some life on his fastball. He can work both sides of the plate, that’s the good thing about it.”
Marmol began the season as the Cubs closer but was removed after the first week of games. Fujikawa took over, but then went on the disabled list April 13 with a strained right forearm. Fujikawa was to make his second Minor League rehab outing on Wednesday and rejoin the Cubs in Washington this weekend.
So, is Gregg the Cubs’ closer?
“He seems to be,” Sveum said. “Gregg’s our closer. That’s pretty much the way it is right now. He’s obviously earned it and there’s a bigger sample out there now to know that.”
– Carrie Muskat
* Kyuji Fujikawa’s second rehab outing was postponed because of unplayable conditions. He was to have pitched for Double-A Tennessee on Tuesday, but the game was called after five innings. The Smokies trailed, 16-0 at that point. Fujikawa was to pitch Wednesday.
If all goes well, the right-hander will be activated from the disabled list in time for the Cubs’ weekend series against the Nationals. Fujikawa has been sidelined since April 13 with a strained right forearm, and pitched one inning in a rehab outing Sunday for Triple-A Iowa.
* Anthony Rizzo was batting .439 with seven doubles, three home runs and 11 RBIs in his last 11 games, and has raised his average from .173 on April 25 to .262.
“The bottom line is you just get more comfortable,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “Coming out of Spring Training, it’s totally different how pitchers will start pitching you, and you’ll see a lot more breaking balls as the season goes on which you don’t see much of in Spring Training, and you see different kind of pitchers. It’s just getting your at-bats and getting better pitches to hit, for one. He’s still a little bit aggressive, but right now he’s taking advantage of mistakes he’s getting.”
* Cody Ransom is the only backup infielder on the Cubs roster, and he’s been getting some extra work at first base in early batting practice. Rizzo is the regular but the Cubs don’t have a backup.
“You never know if [Ransom] will get over there one day,” Sveum said. “Hopefully not. Especially the way Rizzo is swinging against left-handed pitching. It’s a ‘just in case’ thing.”
* Right-handed pitcher Cory Wade, who was pitching for for Triple-A Iowa, was released, the Cubs announced. In 16 innings over 10 games at Iowa, Wade gave up 14 runs on 28 hits and walked seven while striking out 16.
– Carrie Muskat
Josh Vitters and Edwin Maysonet both homered to lead Iowa to a 6-1 victory Monday over Oklahoma City. Maysonet finished with three RBIs, while Vitters hit a two-run homer in the seventh. Chris Rusin picked up the win in relief, giving up three hits over five scoreless innings. Matt Garza started in a rehab outing and gave up four hits over 3 1/3 innings, striking out three.
Tennessee had Monday off. The Smokies play host to Birmingham on Tuesday. Kyuji Fujikawa was slated to pitch in his second rehab outing.
Daytona lost 6-2 to St. Lucie on Monday. Jorge Soler hit a solo home run and a triple, and finished with one RBIs. He’s now batting .268. John Andreoli was 2-for-4. Zach Cates took the loss, giving up six runs on 11 hits over four innings.
Kane Count lost, 11-8, to Dayton. Bijan Rademacher was 3-for-5 and Pin-Chieh Chen, Dan Vogelbach and Wes Darvill each had two RBIs. Lendy Castillo took the loss, giving up eight runs (six earned) on eight hits over four innings.
The Cubs were expected to call up outfielder Ryan Sweeney from Triple-A Iowa and option Dave Sappelt to the Minor Leagues on Monday. Sweeney was pulled from the second game of Iowa’s Sunday doubleheader and told by manager Marty Pevey that he was headed to the big leagues.
“It’s a good feeling,” Sweeney told the Des Moines Register. “I put in some hard work down here and hopefully, I’ll go up there and transfer it over.”
Sweeney, 28, has played for the White Sox, Athletics and Red Sox, and has a career .280 batting average over seven seasons in the big leagues. Last season, he appeared in 63 games for the Red Sox, batting .260 with 16 RBIs. Boston released him on March 30, and he signed with the Cubs on April 2.
A left-handed hitter, he was batting .337 in 23 games with six home runs, two doubles, two triples and 16 RBIs. Sappelt was used in manager Dale Sveum’s platoon against left-handed pitchers. In 20 games with the Cubs, Sappelt was batting .178 (8-for-45).
The Cubs would have to make a roster move to open a spot on the 40-man for Sweeney. One option may be tweaking the bullpen, and sending right-hander Kameron Loe to Iowa. On Sunday, Loe gave up one run on one hit and two walks in one inning against the Reds, and has a 5.40 ERA in seven games. The team could promote a pitcher from Iowa or decide Kyuji Fujikawa is ready after one rehab outing. The Japanese right-hander, on the disabled list with a strained right forearm since April 13, threw 21 pitches Sunday in one inning for Iowa and struck out two.
– Carrie Muskat
* Cubs pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa will make a rehab outing Saturday for Triple-A Iowa, his first game action since going on the disabled list April 13 with a strained right forearm. Matt Garza, on the disabled list with a strained left lat, will make his second Minor League rehab start Monday for Iowa, and was expected to throw at least three innings. Both pitchers are hoping for better weather. The Iowa team has been snowed out for two straight days, Thursday and Friday.
* With the Cubs’ decision to option Ian Stewart to Iowa, Luis Valbuena and Cody Ransom now are the Cubs’ third base combo. Ransom, claimed off waivers from the Padres, starts against left-handed pitchers.
“He’s going to strike out a lot against right-handed pitching, but he’s always been very dependable in the field at every position, has an accurate arm,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Ransom. “He’s a guy who’s a no panic kind of defensive player. We knew what we were getting and obviously, he’s done a really nice job at the plate.”
Ransom was batting .375 on the Cubs’ current homestand.
* Second baseman Darwin Barney survived a nasty crash into a bench in the visitor’s bullpen chasing a foul ball in the fifth inning Friday.
“He was very fortunate that wasn’t multiple injuries,” Sveum said. “It could’ve been a head injury, shoulder. He slid perfect — his arm was above the bench. From here, it looked like hammered his head.”
* Sveum would like to see Barney do a little better at the plate. The second baseman entered Saturday’s game batting .179 overall, and was 3-for-14 in his last five games.
“We all know Barney, he’s always working and trying,” Sveum said. “I think he needs to stick with one thing and go with that. There’s a lot of changing going on every single day.”
What does Sveum want to see? He laughed.
“A lot of things,” Sveum said. “We don’t have enough time for it.”
The problem is more mechanics than his approach at the plate.
– Carrie Muskat
* 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
* Dale Sveum doesn’t give the Cubs relievers a heads up before the game to let them know who the designated closer is that day. He’s sticking with the best matchup.
“It’s been working,” Sveum said Monday. “I’m not going to say it’s a fix-all and that you don’t want to name a closer. You definitely don’t want to rock the boat when things are going good in the back of the bullpen when everybody is healthy and ready to go that night. It could be one of four guys. It depends on the matchups.”
The four include Carlos Marmol, Kevin Gregg, Shawn Camp and James Russell.
“After the fifth inning, everybody in that bullpen is on call at any time, depending on how we want to use it in the matchups,” Sveum said.
How does Gregg feel about that?
“There’s pros and cons to both ways,” Gregg said about picking one pitcher and using a closer by committee approach. “You name a closer and you definitely allow guys to slide into a position where they’re comfortable and know what they’re preparing for. Sometimes that backfires on some guys. That knowing [they're the one], the anxiety gets to them a little bit.”
Even if Sveum tells the pitchers that they’ll be called on late in the game, some prefer more specific instructions.
“Late in the game in the seventh inning and late in the game in the ninth inning are two different animals,” Gregg said. “You have to know what guys are comfortable with, what situations they’ll be successful in.”
* Cubs pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa threw 32 pitches in a bullpen session Monday, his first since going on the disabled list April 13, and will do so again before he makes a Minor League rehab outing. Fujikawa, sidelined with a strained right forearm, was expected to join Triple-A Iowa on Sunday if all goes well.
“Things didn’t go real crisp today,” Sveum said of the session. “Everything was fine and he felt great and everything, but the location wasn’t where we wanted it to be.”
* Scott Baker, coming back from Tommy John surgery one year ago, resumed his throwing program on Monday in Mesa, Ariz. Baker threw from about 45 feet.
* Matt Garza, on the disabled list with a strained left lat, was to start Wednesday for Double-A Tennessee, which would be his second Minor League rehab outing. He will make at least three such starts.
* Catcher Steve Clevenger, on the DL with a strained left oblique, was able to catch two bullpen sessions on Monday and is throwing from 120-130 feet. He expected to start swinging a bat early next week.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs placed closer Kyuji Fujikawa on the 15-day disabled list Saturday because of a strained right forearm, and will go with a closer by committee for now.
Fujikawa, who blew a save situation on Friday but ended up with the win as the Cubs rallied against the Giants, has apparently been dealing with the discomfort in his forearm for a few days.
“The last couple days, it’s been bothering him a little bit,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.
Fujikawa tried to make it work on Friday.
“He even admitted that to stay away from discomfort, he was changing his arm angle,” Sveum said.
A closer for Hanshin in Japan for 12 years before signing with the Cubs this offseason, Fujikawa said he’s had this problem in the past and it usually sidelined him for 10 days. The move is precautionary, the pitcher said.
“Being in an important role with the team, if it’s not helping the team and hurting them, it’s better to make a decision,” Fujikawa said through interpreter Ryo Shinkawa.
Fujikawa replaced Carlos Marmol as the closer last Sunday in Atlanta, but Sveum won’t automatically go back to Marmol to finish games now. Shawn Camp and James Russell will likely be given the duties.
“It’ll probably come down to matchups and what happened earlier in the game,” Sveum said. “I don’t think I’ll use Marmol right now. That will be on down the road if anything like that happens. I want to keep [Marmol] in the role we talked about a few days ago. We’re not going to change that.”
– Carrie Muskat
What is it about those last three outs? Carlos Villanueva may want to take Kyuji Fujikawa, Carlos Marmol and the rest of the Cubs bullpen out to dinner. Perhaps if Villanueva butters them up, he’ll get a win. For the second straight start, Villanueva missed a potential “W” because the bullpen imploded. But the Cubs rallied this time as pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro hit a game-tying home run leading off the ninth and Starlin Castro smacked a walk-off RBI double to score David DeJesus from first and lift the Cubs to a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Giants.
“I’m happy just getting the [team] ‘W,’” Villanueva said. “The atmosphere in our clubhouse right now, I wouldn’t change that for the world.”
The right-hander shut down the Giants for 7 1/3 innings, but they took a 3-2 lead in the ninth against Fujikawa on an RBI single by Pablo Sandoval and a two-run double by Brandon Belt. It was Fujikawa’s second save situation since taking over the closer’s duties from Marmol, and he’s now 1-for-2.
“[It was his] command again,” manager Dale Sveum said of Fujikawa. “He’s not getting the swings and misses with his split. I thought he threw some good splits and they were laying off of them. The command and life of the fastball wasn’t there again. He couldn’t get strike one.”
Said Fujikawa: “As you can see, [my command] wasn’t too good.”
The Cubs rallied in the ninth against Giants star closer Sergio Romo. What is it about the ninth inning?
“Guys lock in,” DeJesus said. “Those are the situations where you want to shine your best. That’s why that closer role is such an important job and it’s a tough job because these guys are going up there with the purpose of trying to win the ballgame.”
Last Saturday, Marmol served up game-tying and walk-off home runs to the Upton brothers in Atlanta and lost his job as the Cubs closer. Now, Fujikawa struggled.
“I told Ryo [Shinkawa], his interpreter, to tell him that I believe in him, and we believe in him and he’ll be fine,” Villanueva said. “[Fujikawa] is very apologetic and he feels bad, and we can tell. We need him, and as long as we communicate that to him, times when things aren’t going well, that’s why we’re teammates and we’re a team. We love ‘Fuji’ and we know he’ll do well.”
– Carrie Muskat
* Alfonso Soriano talked to Carlos Marmol after the right-hander struggled on Opening Day.
“I told him, ‘Don’t lose your confidence,’” Soriano said. “It’s a long season and he has to keep working and that’s the only way you can get better is to keep working and
not lose your confidence because when you lose your confidence, everything goes negative. I tried to give him some motivation because he’s part of the team. We need him. He’ll be all right, he’ll be OK.”
* On Sunday, Dale Sveum said Kyuji Fujikawa will be the Cubs closer. The Japanese right-hander says he’s ready for whenever the Cubs need him.
“My job is to pitch whenever I’m asked,” Fujikawa said through interpreter Ryo Shinkawa. “I didn’t have a good outing [Saturday]. I’m going to try to go back out there, and it’s a long season, I’m trying to make it as positive as possible.”
He was a closer for Hanshin for 12 years. Did he ever lose his job the way Marmol has?
“No,” Fujikawa said.
* Second baseman Darwin Barney hopes to have the stitches removed from his left knee on Monday. Barney suffered a knee laceration in the final exhibition game March 30 in Houston and is on the disabled list. He has been able to take batting practice and was going to ride a stationary bike on Sunday.
“He’s able to bend his knee all the way now,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “He’s been hitting and taking ground balls straight at him. He’ll be ready to go, just guessing five days from now, and be back with us after the off day [April 15].”
Barney was expected to get some at-bats at Class A Kane County this week.
* Ian Stewart, on the disabled list with a strained left quad, went 1-for-4 on Saturday in Mesa during an extended Spring Training game. He was the designated hitter, and had no setbacks, Sveum said. After an off day Sunday, Stewart was expected to get another four to six at-bats on Monday in Mesa. He could begin a rehab assignment in one week.
* Matt Garza, sidelined with a strained left lat, threw his second bullpen on Sunday. He was not expected to return until May.
– Carrie Muskat