It has been a very frustrating first season in the United States for Japanese relief pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa.
He signed a two-year contract with the Chicago Cubs in the offseason, and started the season as the set-up man for closer Carlos Marmol. After Marmol’s early season struggles, manager Dale Sveum made Fujikawa the closer. Not long after that, he made his first trip to the DL with a forearm strain. He returned to the Cubs bullpen earlier this month, but is now back on the disabled list.
According to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, GM Jed Hoyer says the Cubs are “cautiously optimistic” that it is the same injury that Fujikawa suffered before. If this is true, I think we could expect him to return in the next few weeks. We will hear more about the injury at some point on Tuesday, as the Cubs have their relief pitcher going in for a MRI.
The Cubs organization is surely hoping that the injury is similar to last time and Fujikawa can make a full recovery quickly. He spoke to the Japanese media on Saturday and said that he felt a “snap” in his elbow while making a pitch to Joey Votto.
Obviously, that sounds like the ailment could end up being a worst-case scenario type of situation. If that is the case, I doubt that we will see Fujikawa pitch again this season. Hopefully, there was just some sort of a language barrier problem and the injury is not as bad as the reliever made it seem.
Fujikawa has pitched very well since returning from the disabled list earlier this month. He has only allowed one run in 7.2 innings of work. Hopefully, he can return to health and give the Cubs another weapon out of the bullpen.