Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Fujikawa likely should have started on DL
By Jesse Rogers
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs, who were rained out Wednesday for a second time on this homestand, all but admitted a mistake in allowing reliever Kyuji Fujikawa to start the season in the bullpen instead of the disabled list. Fujikawa pitched in five games giving up eight hits and six runs despite feeling pain in his elbow.
"He dealt with this at the end of spring training," general manager Jed Hoyer said on Tuesday. "We thought the time off at the end of spring would get him right and it never really did. Possibly this should have been done at the end of spring training going into the season, but we thought he was ready to go. Obviously he didn't quite get there."
Fujikawa was promoted to closer the day after giving up three runs in the eighth inning of a game against Atlanta the first week of the season. Then he blew a save on Friday and subsequently went on the disabled list Saturday.
"It was pretty obvious to everyone, his command wasn't there," Hoyer said. "And really that's his strong suit ... when a guy starts losing that you start to wonder what a guy is covering up."
Between injuries and poor performance the Cubs have made more than their fair share of roster moves over the first 13 games. After a 4-9 start a shakeup isn't a bad thing, especially in the bullpen. Two newcomers -- Kameron Loe and Kevin Gregg -- have been added and infielder Cody Ransom was picked up off waivers.
"When you're sitting at the opener in Pittsburgh this isn't what you hope to be doing 12 games in," Hoyer said Tuesday.
To make room for those newcomers, Hisanori Takahashi and Brent Lillibridge were designated for assignment, the former was caught in a number's game while the latter was demoted due to performance.
Takahashi was a victim of how good the Cubs starting staff has been and how bad back end of the bullpen has performed.
"Takahashi was here to pitch long," Hoyer said. "That wasn't where we were weak in the early going."
A long man hasn't been needed with Cubs starters going deep into games but finishing things off at the end has been an issue so former closer Gregg was added to the mix. It's his second stint with the Cubs.
Manager Dale Sveum said he'll stick with the closer-by-committee plan but indicated when Fujikawa comes off the disabled list he would be "the logical choice" to close games.
Ransom joined the team on Wednesday and said he can play any infield position, but the Cubs need him to hit when he's in the lineup. Lillibridge could play many positions as well but that didn't save his job considering his .042 batting average. Ransom wasn't any better. He was 0-for-11 with the San Diego Padres before they let him go.
"I didn't do too well," Ransom said. "I know that. There were some balls that could have been hits but they weren't. That's kind of the way the game is."
He's a 16-year veteran who has the most experience in the middle of the infield. He'll take over Lillibridge's role, playing some games at third base as well.
"I feel like I can play a little bit of everywhere," he said. "If things are going well I can swing the bat sometimes a little too."
There's no change to the pitching rotation despite the rain out on Wednesday. Carlos Villanueva will pitch Thursday afternoon against the Rangers while Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson and Scott Feldman will pitch in Milwaukee over the weekend.
Former Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano made a short appearance in the Cubs clubhouse before Wednesday's game was called off. He said hello to former teammates but left quickly. Zambrano has not signed with a team and the Cubs say they have no interest.
Dale Sveum said the plan for Matt Garza is to still pitch at Kane County on Friday but weather issues could affect his start.
"We're not that talented that we can get away with playing sloppy baseball so we need to fix that." -- Cubs president Theo Epstein, on his team's first two weeks of the season.