Things are not looking good for Cubs reliever Kyuji Fujikawa.
The Cubs on Monday placed Fujikawa on the 15-day disabled list with what they call a “muscular strain of the right forearm.”
Fujikawa, whom the Cubs signed to a two-year, $9.5 million contract this past winter, was on the DL from mid-April to mid-May with a right-forearm strain.
He will have an MRI Tuesday. General manager Jed Hoyer said the Cubs are “cautiously optimistic” the 32-year-old reliever will be OK and that the injury is no more serious than what sidelined him in April.
However, anytime a forearm injury recurs, it’s fair to speculate that the elbow may be involved.
“If it is the same injury twice, we’ll probably have to consider maybe taking a little longer and taking more caution with it,” Hoyer said. “We’ll comment tomorrow once we have the MRI results.”
Fujikawa, who had a successful career as a closer in Japan before coming to the Cubs, opened the season as a setup man to closer Carlos Marmol. But when ineffectiveness cost Marmol his job, Fujikawa moved into the closer’s role until he got hurt.
If Fujikawa is out for any length of time, his contract could end up being a costly boondoggle for the Cubs, whose brass has talked of signing free agents “on the right side of 30 years old.”
“We kind of felt like he was getting comfortable in his role,” Hoyer said. “Disappointing is probably too strong a word. I’d say frustrated it happened twice. We’re still excited to have him on our club and hopefully he’ll get back.”
To fill Fujikawa’s spot on the roster, the Cubs claimed right-handed reliever Alex Burnett off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles, who designated him for assignment May 23.
Burnett, 25, made 67 relief appearances for the Minnesota Twins last year. For his career, he is 8-11 with a 4.73 ERA and a WHIP of 1.45.
No big deal:
The Cubs were downplaying Sunday’s tempest between their pitcher, Matt Garza, and Cincinnati Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto, who threw a pitch over the head of David DeJesus.
Garza said that Cueto needed to “grow the (heck) up” and that Cueto could find him at his locker. Early Monday, Reds manager Dusty Baker said Garza should say that to Cueto’s face and that players should settle those things like they do in hockey: with fisticuffs.
“I’m not really worried about it,” DeJesus said. “It’s great to have guys who back you, your own teammates. You want your teammates behind you, like Garza, who’s a great guy to have. I don’t think this needs to get blown out of proportion.
“It gave us a spark that we needed yesterday (in a come-from-behind victory). We were able to come back and win a big game. We come into this series feeling fresh and feeling positive.
“I think that’s how we need to go. That’s over with, that’s done with and let’s move forward.”
Time to trade?
With the Cubs already out of the NL Central race, Jed Hoyer was asked if the front office has talked about the July 31 trading deadline and possibly trading away veteran players.
“I still feel we were playing really well before this last week,” he said. “You always hold out hope that you can string things together and make a run. It’s really hard in this division, I’ll say that.
“You’ve got three teams playing really well. You’ve got to tip your cap to the Cardinals and the Reds and the Pirates. It is still fairly early. You do want to still see these fight through it and hopefully get on a run.
“But, yeah, at some point, there is a finite amount of time between now and July 31. Every week that goes by we get closer.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.