Kyuji Fujikawa’s return may settle Cubs’ bullpen shuffle
By Toni Ginnetti email@example.com May 6, 2013 9:43PM
Chicago Cubs' Kyuji Fujikawa reacts after the Cubs defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 6-3 in a baseball game Tuesday, April 9, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Jim Prisching)
Updated: June 8, 2013 6:32AM
The bullpen picture hasn’t looked good of late, but it could change noticeably when Kyuji Fujikawa returns.
“If he comes back and everything is good, it sets the bullpen up differently than it is now,’’ manager Dale Sveum said.
Fujikawa, recovering from a forearm muscle strain, will pitch one more time with Class AA Tennessee this week. He pitched an inning Sunday for Class AAA Iowa, striking out two and walking one.
Fujikawa likely would return to closing, allowing Sveum to use Kevin Gregg and James Russell in setup roles.
The rotation also will change soon if Matt Garza continues on schedule in his rehab from a left lat strain.
Garza threw well Monday at Iowa, working 3„ innings, giving up a run on four hits and striking out three.
“I talked to him and he was really pumped,’’ Sveum said. “Everything went well. His pitches were pretty efficient, and his slider was up to 87 mph.’’
Garza will go to Class AA Tennessee for his next start.
Ryan Sweeney signed a minor-league contract with the Cubs April 3 after he was released by Boston knowing he had a good chance of being recalled.
It came Monday after he hit .337 for Iowa, playing near his hometown of Cedar Rapids.
“Having [Des Moines] that close was a huge plus if I had to go to Class AAA,’’ said Sweeney, 28, a five-year veteran originally drafted by the White Sox in 2003. “I talked to a few teams, but talking to Theo [Epstein], I felt this was a good fit.’’
Left-handed hitting Sweeney replaces Dave Sappelt, who was optioned to Iowa.
“He’s a guy we’ve wanted to get up here to balance out the bench and have flexibility when we give Sori [Alfonso Soriano] days off,’’ Sveum said. “He’s another guy on the bench who can hit and hit the ball out of the park.’’
The Cubs also optioned reliever Kameron Loe to Iowa and recalled Rafael Dolis.
“The bullpen’s a little beat up now and we needed an arm,’’ Sveum said.