Cubs pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa needs Tommy John surgery
BY TONI GINNETTI firstname.lastname@example.org May 29, 2013 11:19AM
Cubs pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa warms up in the ninth inning of the Chicago Cubs 7-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers in the Cubs home opener Monday April 8, 2013 at the Wrigley Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: May 29, 2013 4:39PM
Cubs relief pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa will have to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, the team announced on Wednesday.
The Japanese star who was signed to a two-year, $9.5 million deal, will miss the rest of the season, the latest injury setback for the pitching staff.
No date for the surgery is set, but general manager Jed Hoyer said the team is hopeful he can return next summer.
“I personally don’t think this is a setback,” Fujikawa said. “It’s unfortunate I can’t be with my teammates this year, but I have a chance to come back and contribute next year.
“This surgery has a high success rate. I believe in that. It’s a long process of rehab,but I plan to work hard and come back strong.”
The bullpen shuffles again, with Carlos Marmol likely moving into the setup role with james Russell. Rafael Dolis and newly acquired Alex Burnett will be middle inning pitchers.
“Everyone has their injuries,’’ manager Dale Sveum said. “Obviously we get hit with a big blow. But other people have to step up and fill big shoes.”
Fujikawa had troubles almost immediately when the season began and went on the disabled list in mid-April with a right forearm strain. He returned May 10 and pitched well in seven appearances, until he walked off his last outing in Cincinnati Sunday shaking his arm.
He pitched 1 2/3 innings, but general manager Jed Hoyer said the second inning of work didn’t cause the elbow ligament tear.
“I don’t think that’s the reason,” he said. “We could tell early in the season the guy we saw wasn’t the guy we knew.”
Fujikawa went on the disabled list Monday and an MRI on Tuesday revealed the elbow ligament tear.
“Any time somebody leaves, someone else has to step up,’’ said closer Kevin Gregg, whose acquisition last month has turned into a major one for the team. “But it’s a big blow because [Fujikawa] has experience late in games and he was throwing well.’’
The Cubs also have reliever Shawn Camp sidelined with a strained right big toe while Scott Baker, who was signed as a starter in the off season, remains on the 60 day disabled list continuing to recuperate from Tommy John surgery he had in April, 2012.
Another pitching prospect, Arodys Vizcaino, who was acquired from Atlanta last season at the trade deadline in the deal involving pitcher Paul Maholm, also continues to recover from Tommy John surgery from March, 2012.
He had a setback this week requiring arthroscopic debridement surgery near the elbow, pushing back his rehab another six weeks.
“Unfortunately guys get hurt,’’ Gregg said. “You don’t wish it on anyone. [Fujikawa] was out there battling.
“The whole team has a flow, not just the bullpen,’’ he said. “With the injuries we’ve had, it disrupts the whole team. Hopefully we can get through it and start to win more games.’’