Results tagged ‘ Kyuji Fujikawa ’

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

Pitchers

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

2/8 Spring Training update

Nearly all of the Cubs pitchers have reported to Fitch Park for early workouts, and they’ve been busy. Kyuji Fujikawa threw off the mound around 8 a.m. on Friday. Matt Garza has had no setbacks and Edwin Jackson was spotted headed to the cage to work on his bunting.

Pitchers and catchers must be in Arizona by Sunday, but the first workout will be Tuesday at Fitch Park, beginning around 9:30 a.m. The workout is delayed one day so players can undergo physicals on Monday. There will be some working out early.

About 30 players were at Fitch on Friday, including early birds David DeJesus, Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney, Logan Watkins, Darnell McDonald and Steve Clevenger. The first full squad workout is scheduled for Feb. 17.

The Cubs are expecting about 62 players in camp, including outfielder Scott Hairston, whose contract has yet to be finalized. The front office will hold its organizational meetings Tuesday and Wednesday in the Phoenix area.

– Carrie Muskat

12/7 Cubs welcome Fujikawa

The Cubs officially introduced new reliever Kyuji Fujikawa on Friday at Wrigley Field. The Japanese right-hander, who played for the Hanshin Tigers, agreed to a two-year, $9.5 million contract. The deal includes a signing bonus of $1 million and $4 million in salaries in 2013 and ’14. There also is a vesting option valued at $5.5 million or $6 million, to be determined by games finished.

He visited Chicago and Wrigley Field a few weeks ago, and was sold on the city and the ballpark then.

“From that day on, in my head, it was ‘Cubs, Cubs, Cubs,’ and that’s how everything came through,” Fujikawa said.

The right-hander, who totaled 220 saves in 12 seasons with Hanshin, will be used to set-up closer Carlos Marmol, not take his place.

“Our goal is to have the best bullpen possible,” GM Jed Hoyer said. “Kyuji certainly adds to that. He’s had a great career. If you look at his career, he was a dominant set-up guy first and a dominant closer. We know he can do both roles. We look at it as adding a great arm and we don’t worry about the role.”

Fujikawa wasn’t too concerned when he would be pitching.

“[He wanted] a chance to have a meaningful role and do his job,” Theo Epstein said of Fujikawa. “That’s all he said. He said, ‘My job is not closer or set-up guy, my job is to help the team win and do what the manager asks of me’ and that’s the only time it came up in the discussion.”

There’s a reason he picked No. 11.

“I was No. 22 with the Hanshin Tigers,” Fujikawa said, “but to have a better career than No. 22, I went younger with No. 11. I asked for 11 and it was luckily open.”

He may want to feel young but the Cubs are hoping Fujikawa can stabilize the young bullpen. They also really like his stuff.

“The biggest thing was his ability to pitch with his fastball,” Hoyer said. “He’s not a guy who tricks you, he comes right after guys. … Guys who rely too much on trickery can be guys who the league figures out quickly. Our hope is that because he pitches with his fastball, he can pitch to a game plan and establish himself and have a nice run.”

– Carrie Muskat

12/3 Winter meetings Day 2

* Teams are inquiring about Alfonso Soriano, and how much the Cubs might be willing to pay. Soriano is owed $38 million over the next two years. Theo Epstein wouldn’t comment on the rumors out of respect to Soriano.

“One of the things that comes with being a veteran is obviously, there’s going to be speculation, but veteran players appreciate when clubs don’t sort of fuel those fires,” Epstein said Monday in Nashville. “It’s the Winter Meetings and there will be lots of rumors, but they don’t need to come from the club. We really value what he’s done here and we’ve been open with him about the fact that ‘Hey, we’ll listen, and if there’s something that makes sense for everyone, we’ll come to you.”

* The Cubs are in the market for a right fielder. Epstein says they have been “really active” meeting with teams about possible trades and also were keeping an eye on the free agent outfielders available. One thing Epstein hasn’t had to worry about is selling a free agent on the possibility of playing in Chicago.

“Dale [Sveum] is making a name for himself as a manager,” Epstein said. “Players recognize we had a good clubhouse last year despite a difficult season. Free agents believe in the positive direction we’re going. Elite baseball players are really competitive and I think they like the thought of being part of the solution here and being a member of the team that finally wins a World Series with the Cubs. I’ve had a number of players tell that to me directly. We have not had to sell our situation much at all. Players, when we express interest, we’re hearing back, ‘Oh, that’s a place we’ve had our eye on.’ You don’t hear that often after a 101-loss season.”

* One free agent whom the Cubs were expected to add to the mix is Japanese pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa, who has reportedly agreed to a two-year, $9.5 million contract. Fujikawa needs to pass a physical before the deal can be completed, which could happen next week.

* Expect the Cubs to add a player on Thursday during the Rule 5 Draft. Chicago has the second pick overall, and Epstein said they have been checking the names available as well as getting interest from other teams trying to acquire their spot in the order.

– Carrie Muskat

12/2 Day 1 at Nashville

Early arriving scouts at the Gaylord Opryland resort, gathering for baseball’s Winter Meetings, have the same questions as Cubs fans. Has the team signed free agent pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa or not?
The Cubs continue to keep quiet about Fujikawa, who they have reportedly inked to a two-year, $9.5 million contract. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network reported the deal on Saturday, saying Fujikawa would receive a signing bonus of $1 million and $4 million in salaries in 2013 and ’14. There also was a vesting option valued at $5.5 million or $6 million, to be determined by games finished. Cubs officials would neither confirm nor comment on the report.

Japanese media in Nashville for the Winter Meetings also were curious and had not heard anything further about Fujikawa, but did speculate the right-hander may be headed back to the U.S. A large contingent of Japanese media lingered in the lobby at the hotel to try to get a comment from Hoyer. There was a report that all that was needed was for Fujikawa to take a physical before the deal was finalized. We’ll keep you posted.

– Carrie Muskat

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