Thursday, March 14, 2013
Cubs talk it through with new MLB rule
By Jesse Rogers
MESA, Ariz. -- New Chicago Cubs pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa struggled for the first time in spring training on Wednesday in a 2-0 loss to the Colorado Rockies. And that allowed manager Dale Sveum to take advantage of a new Major League Baseball rule which allows an interpreter to come to the mound with the manager or pitching coach during an inning.
After Fujikawa walked his second batter in the sixth inning, pitching coach Chris Bosio and Japanese interpreter Ryo Shinkawa, went to talk to him with catcher Dioner Navarro. Navarro said communication before Shinkawa appeared on the mound didn't go so well between catcher and pitcher.
"A little rough," Navarro said after the game. "It's part of spring training. We're trying to get on the same page."
Navarro kept calling for a cut fastball while Fujikawa was throwing a slider.
"We had a little sign situation where I wanted to get it right and after we did it, it became a lot easier," Navarro said. "We were trying to get the cutter sign right because I called cutter a couple of times and he threw me a slider."
It was the first time Navarro caught Fujikawa since the two joined the team in the offseason.
"Without communicating much before the game I think it was good to dive right into the game situation," Fujikawa said through Shinkawa.
Fujikawa claims his struggles during the sixth inning -- he gave up a run on a hit and two walks -- had nothing to do with the miscommunication and was just "part of spring training." Navarro just wanted to get things right before things got out of hand with runners on base.
"It wasn't a big deal but once the runners got on I didn't want to make a fool of myself behind the plate," he said. "Once the interpreter went out, we kind of settled that down. It was a lot easier."
Baseball owners approved the new rule in January during the owners meetings.
The Venezuelan-born Navarro was asked if the new rule could have come in handy when he was breaking into baseball, with a Spanish to English translator.
"Japanese is a hard language to learn," Navarro said. "I guess they believe translation from Spanish to English is a lot closer than Japanese to English."
Neither Fujikawa or Navarro believed they would need the interpreter much during the regular season. After one time working together they believe they will be much better moving forward, but there's no doubt it was needed on Wednesday. Navarro actually went to the mound once to "talk" to Fujikawa before Bosio and Shinkawa joined him one batter later.
Navarro was asked if he was glad Shinkawa came out considering the first mound meeting didn't go so well.
"Yes, I was," Navarro said with a smile.
Navarro's style: Navarro was impressive behind the plate on Wednesday. He picked off the Rockies' Michael Cuddyer at first base with a snap throw then threw out another at second on a stolen base attempt.
He says the snap throws are something we could see in the regular season.
"I like to throw to the bases a lot," Navarro said. "Even if I don't get the runner out I like to keep them close. Give our middle infielders a chance to turn a double play or get our pitchers out of a jam like it happened today. I'm pretty active behind the plate."
Navarro was excited after catching Cuddyer sleeping at first base.
"I love when I catch a guy off-guard," he said. "It makes me feel pretty good."