Thursday, February 14, 2013
Fujikawa adjusting quickly to Cubs, U.S.
By Jesse Rogers
Kyuji Fujikawa will begin the season as a setup man for Carlos Marmol.
MESA, Ariz. -- After just a few days with his new team in a new country, Chicago Cubs reliever Kyuji Fujikawa says he's adjusting well to his new surroundings -- on and off the field.
"American food is good," Fujikawa said through an interpreter before a bullpen session on Thursday morning. "Very exciting. Every day. Every day is something new."
After a 12-year career in Japan, the 32-year-old Fujikawa is used to a baseball locker room, just not one in the U.S. One thing that isn't different is the attention he's receiving from the Japanese media. There have been at least five reporters following him since he arrived, sometimes it's up to seven or eight.
"It's actually less than compared to Japan," he joked.
Fujikawa re-iterated his signing day stance that the Cubs have promised him nothing in terms of his role. Right now he's ticketed to be the set-up man for Carlos Marmol although he was a closer in Japan.
"Nothing specific about the role, but they mentioned they wanted me to be a veteran in the clubhouse and a big part of the team," he said.
For now, Fujikawa is just learning to fit in. His blond, almost orange, hair has him standing out.
"My natural color is black," he said. "I think it will get back to it eventually. Let me know if you know a good salon."
As far as his pitching, Fujikawa looked to be hitting about 90 mph on his fastball Thursday. He threw some nasty splitters as well.
"He's in midseason form," manager Dale Sveum said. "I mean he's letting it go, his splitter and everything, from the get-go."
The 6-0, 168-pound Fujikawa is slight of frame, but his arm angle and delivery allow for a deceptive fastball.
"It's the arm speed and hand speed," Sveum said. "And how they finish the ball with their wrist and arm at the end. Lot of speed at the finish."
Sveum indicated there has been no change in their plans for Fujikawa. He's slated for the eighth inning. And most of the interaction between manager and pitcher so far has been "about fishing."