Results tagged ‘ Kyuji Fujikawa ’

4/12 Cubs 4, Giants 3

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

4/7 Extra bases

* 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

4/7 Fujikawa replaces Marmol as closer

Carlos Marmol is no longer the Cubs closer, and Kyuji Fujikawa is taking over the job. Cubs manager Dale Sveum met Sunday with both pitchers to give them the news. The Cubs had a 5-1 lead Saturday against the Braves but lost, 6-5, when Marmol served up game-tying and game-winning home runs in the ninth to B.J. Upton and Justin Upton, respectively.

Is there a chance Marmol could reclaim the job this year?

“Yeah, there’s a chance,” Sveum said. “Hopefully, Fujikawa takes it and runs with it and does a great job and we don’t have to deal with it. Marmol’s going to pitch in less stressful situations and get his confidence back. You still have seven guys in the bullpen, so he’s obviously going to pitch and end up pitching quite a bit in situations.”

Marmol wasn’t going to give up on getting the job back.

“I’m not going to put my head down,” he said. “Everybody knows what I need to work on, locate my pitches. That’s the thing I need to do.”

The Cubs did have in-house options such as Shawn Camp and James Russell. Fujikawa signed with the Cubs after being the closer in Hanshin for 12 seasons. Asked if he’d ever lost his job there, Fujikawa said, “No.”

“That’s one reason we signed him, in case something like this happened,” Sveum said. “He’s comfortable in getting the last three outs. It’s just kind of the logical thing to do instead of thinking you’re going to do it by committee or anything like that.”

— Carrie Muskat

4/2 Welcome to the show

Kyuji Fujikawa became only the second Cubs pitcher to pick up a save in his first appearance for the team in the save era. Prior to Monday, that distinction belonged to Todd Wellemeyer, according to historian Ed Hartig. Wellemeyer got his save in his first appearance on May 15, 2003, in a 17-inning game against the Brewers. Fujikawa got the final out Monday to preserve the Cubs’ 3-1 win over the Pirates. It was his first appearance in the U.S. Major Leagues.

— Carrie Muskat

4/1 Extra bases

* The first game was a good day for Anthony Rizzo, who was razzed by his teammates this spring for the lack of home runs.

“Guys were calling me ‘Campana,'” he said, referring to former Cubs outfielder Tony Campana, known for his speed, not his power. “You don’t try to hit home runs but you get guys chirping at you, and it’s nice to get it out of the way and just win.”

With one out in the Cubs’ first, Starlin Castro singled and Rizzo sent A.J. Burnett’s first pitch 438 feet to right-center, the ball landing behind the bleacher seats. Rizzo was one of six Cubs making their first Opening Day starts, and knows the importance of getting off to a good start.

“It’s one-game playoffs every day for 162-plus [games], hopefully, and we just have to play hard,” Rizzo said. “Everyone has to have each other’s back. I think when everyone gets each other’s back, everyone will get emotional and the emotion will carry us all year.”

* Jeff Samardzija gave up two hits over eight innings on Opening Day Monday. Of the 100 Cubs Opening Day games since 1914, the only Chicago pitcher to go at least eight innings and give up two or fewer hits in the season opener was Lon Warneke on April 17, 1934. Warneke threw a complete game, one-hit shutout that day in a 6-0 win over the Reds.

According to baseball historian Ed Hartig, there were four Opening Days when a Cubs starter threw at least eight scoreless innings: April 12, 1933 (Warneke); April 17, 1934 (Warneke); April 19, 1944 (Hank Wyse); and April 9, 1974 (Bill Bonham).

* Japanese right-hander Kyuji Fujikawa picked up a save in his first appearance with the Cubs, and is the first pitcher to do so with the team since Todd Wellemeyer on May 15, 2003.

* The Triple-A Iowa Cubs will have 18 players with Major League experience on their roster. Lefties Chris Rusin and Brooks Raley return to the rotation. Rusin led the Iowa team in wins (8), starts (25), and strikeouts (94) last year, and will start the season opener Thursday Albuquerque. Right-handers Drew Carpenter, Barret Loux, and Nick Struck round out the starting rotation.

— Carrie Muskat

4/1 Sveum: Marmol’s the closer

Jeff Samardzija looked like an Opening Day veteran, not first-timer. Anthony Rizzo, who didn’t hit a home run in any Cactus League games, launched the first pitch he saw in the regular season out of PNC Park for a two-run blast. And Carlos Marmol was pulled in the ninth and Japanese right-hander Kyuji Fujikawa got the save. The end result: The Cubs held on for a 3-1 win Monday over the Pirates in the season opener and manager Dale Sveum did his best to downplay any closer controversy.

Marmol struck out the first batter he faced in the ninth. But then he hit Andrew McCutchen, who stole second and scored on Pedro Alvarez’s single to center. After Marmol walked Gaby Sanchez, Sveum turned to James Russell, who induced Neil Walker to pop up to to right field. Fujikawa, making his Major League debut, came on to get Russell Martin to fly out to center to earn the save.

“That’s part of the ninth inning,” Sveum said. “Those last three outs are hard to get no matter who’s on the mound. Marmol didn’t really have it today so I went to a couple other guys to get those last two outs.”

Sveum isn’t abandoning Marmol.

“He’s still the closer,” Sveum said. “I’m not making any changes or anything like that, he just didn’t have it today.”

Fujikawa, who was a closer for 12 seasons with Hanshin, is not trying to take Marmol’s job.

“That’s nothing I can control,” he said through interpreter Ryo Shinkawa. “My job is to get the three outs I’m asked for — three outs, four outs.”

Sometimes, one out.

“Lucky man,” Fujikawa said, in English.

Marmol, who threw 19 pitches, nine for strikes, got a visit from pitching coach Chris Bosio after Alvarez’s single. The closer said he was a little surprised to see Sveum after he walked Sanchez.

“That’s why you need teammates, that’s why you need a team, to pick me up,” Marmol said. “That’s what a team does.”

Did he have problems with his command?

“A little bit,” Marmol said. “I felt fine, though. My slider command was good. … It’s one bad day. It happened on the first day.”

— Carrie Muskat

3/27 Sveum: No worries about Marmol

In 2004, Keith Foulke gave up 15 earned runs in nine Spring Training innings for a 15.00 ERA. Cubs manager Dale Sveum, then on the Red Sox coaching staff, called it “the worst Spring Training in the history of the game.” That year, Foulke saved 32 games for the Red Sox, and helped them win a World Series.

“That’s why you don’t put too much emphasis on Spring Training,” Sveum said Wednesday.

Which is why Sveum wasn’t too upset after Carlos Marmol’s rough outing Tuesday night against the Reds. Marmol had not given up an earned run in his seven outings before Tuesday when he failed to retire any of the six batters he faced. The right-hander was charged with three earned runs on six hits and one walk. In his seven previous outings, he had given up four hits. Marmol’s spring ERA went from 1.86 to 4.66 after the outing, which isn’t close to being Foulke-like.

“He’s been throwing strikes with his fastball,” Sveum said of Marmol. “[Tuesday], he got hit a little bit but it’s still strikes and he’s doing a pretty good job. He had four outings in a row where I think the most pitches he threw were 12.

“There’s no worries there,” he said. “It’s Spring Training, just like you don’t worry about one of your core hitters struggling in Spring Training because Opening Day is a different animal with adrenaline and focus and everything gets better.”

The Cubs do have Kyuji Fujikawa in camp. The Japanese right-hander was a closer for 12 seasons with Hanshin, and will be used to close if Marmol needs a breather. But Fujikawa isn’t taking Marmol’s job.

“Anybody can lose their job at any time during the season, but there’s one thing you don’t get caught up in — you don’t get caught up in guys’ track records in Spring Training or what’s going on in Spring Training,” Sveum said. “The adrenaline factor and all that — you don’t ever forget what [Marmol] did the last three months of the season last year.”

After the All-Star break, Marmol posted a 1.52 ERA in 30 games, and saved 12 of 13 opportunities.

— Carrie Muskat

2/26 Cubs Inbox

Q: With Kyuji Fujikawa only able to speak Japanese, how will pitching coach Chris Bosio talk to him when he’s in the game? Will the translator go out with Bosio to the mound or will Bosio just tell the translator what he wants Fujikawa to do and the translator just runs out and do it alone? — Erik S., Rockford, IL

A: Major League Baseball has adjusted its rules so the interpreter — in this case, Ryo Shinkawa — can go to the mound with Bosio if needed. Fujikawa does speak some English — and some of the terminology is the same. For example, a fastball is “fastball” in Japanese. Bosio also is trying to learn enough Japanese necessary to communicate, so if there is a key word needed, he can use that. In Fujikawa’s first appearance in an intrasquad game, Shinkawa went to the mound with catcher Rafael Lopez to make sure the pitcher and catcher could communicate.

2/19 Bunt tourney – Tuesday pairings

Here are Tuesday’s bunt tourney matchups, to be updated after the workout:

Position players

Dioner Navarro vs. Michael Brenly

Darnell McDonald vs. Josh Vitters

Brent Lillibridge vs. Brad Nelson

Welington Castillo vs. Brett Jackson


Kyuji Fujikawa vs. Blake Parker

Carlos Villanueva vs. Jaye Chapman

Cory Wade vs. Alberto Cabrera

Jeff Samardzija vs. Rafael Dolis

— Carrie Muskat

2/9 Fujikawa ready to go

Kyuji Fujikawa is new to the Cubs but after just a few days, he realizes he’s in the right spot in the Fitch Park clubhouse, lockered between second baseman Darwin Barney and outfielder David DeJesus.

“Nice guys,” the Japanese pitcher said in English.

On Sunday, Fujikawa will have his fourth bullpen session since arriving in Arizona one week ago. More than half of the 62 players expected in the Cubs Spring Training camp have already been working out at Fitch, including Fujikawa, the former Hanshin Tigers closer who signed a two-year contract with Chicago in December.

“I’m ready,” he said, again in English.

He’s the Cubs’ second Japanese player, following outfielder Kosuke Fukudome, who was with the team from 2008-11. The two didn’t talk about making the transition to the U.S. Major Leagues nor about Wrigley Field. Fujikawa did ask some other Japanese players for advice.

“They all pointed out that it’s important to be your own self and not change too much,” he said, through interpreter Ryo Shinkawa.

Could he take over as closer? Carlos Marmol was expected in Arizona on Sunday. He was in court on Friday to deal with domestic abuse charges filed by a woman in the Dominican Republic. Fujikawa said he wasn’t aware of Marmol’s legal issues and said he wasn’t thinking about taking over as the Cubs closer at some point.

“The decision is not up to me but the coaches,” Fujikawa said. “My job is to get outs and as I do that, I’ll try to make it a tougher decision for the coaches to make.”

— Carrie Muskat