The Cubs just named Kyuji Fujikawa as their closer last Sunday, but they’ll now have to go back to the drawing board for the ninth inning.
According to Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago, Fujikawa has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a muscle sprain in his right forearm. Rafael Dolis has been called up to take his place in the Cubs’ bullpen.
It’s not clear how long Fujikawa has been pitching through the injury, but it provides some context for his early hiccups. The 32-year-old right-hander allowed three runs on three hits in a blown save against the Giants yesterday and also gave up three runs in an appearance against the Braves last Saturday.
Rogers notes that the Cubs will use a closer-by-committee approach in Fujikawa’s absence, but Carlos Marmol is not expected to be a part of it. This means that right-hander Shawn Camp and left-hander James Russell will likely get most of the save chances.
Everyone is well aware of how good Angels outfielder Mike Trout is at the game of baseball. The 26-year-old is already an all-time great, having won two MVP awards — and arguably deserving of two others — and the 2012 Rookie of the Year Award. He has accrued 54.2 WAR, per Baseball Reference, which is right around the threshold for a Hall of Fame career. Trout does it all: he draws walks, he hits for average, he hits for power, he steals bases, he plays good defense.
But here’s an achievement that is amazing even for a player like Trout: he has yet to strike out this spring. In 41 Cactus League plate appearances, he has 10 hits (including a triple and two homers) and six walks with zero strikeouts. Across his career, Trout has a 21.5 percent strikeout rate, right around the league average. He isn’t usually such a stickler for avoiding the punch-out, but this spring he is.
To put this in perspective, 134 players this spring have struck out at least 10 times, according to MLB.com. 938 players have struck out at least once. The only other players to have taken at least 10 at-bats without striking out this spring are Humberto Arteaga (Royals, 23 AB), Tony Cruz (Reds, 18 AB), Oscar Hernandez (Red Sox, 10 AB), and Jacob Stallings (Pirates, 18 AB).
According to Angels assistant hitting coach Paul Sorrento, the lack of strikeouts hasn’t been a conscious effort from Trout, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Ho hum. The best player in baseball is apparently getting even better.