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.
Pablo Sandoval could be tabbed to play second base in the near future, per a report from John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. According to Shea, Sandoval has been spotted taking grounders at second during pre-game warm-ups and may be considering switching to the keystone on a part-time basis.
It wouldn’t be the weirdest thing the 31-year-old corner infielder has done this year — that distinction goes to the flawless inning of relief he pitched in a blowout loss against the Dodgers last month. But it would represent a pretty notable departure from his comfort zone even so; Sandoval has primarily manned first and third base throughout his 11-year career in the majors and has also taken a few reps at DH during his resurgence with the Giants in 2018.
Of course, this wouldn’t necessarily be a permanent switch for Sandoval. As Shea points out, the Giants are thin on middle infielders after losing Joe Panik to a torn UCL in his left thumb and backup Alen Hanson to a left hamstring strain. Provided he can get up to speed quickly (no easy feat, according to infield coach Ron Wotus), he’d give the club some added depth behind Kelby Tomlinson and Miguel Gomez until Panik is ready to take the field again. Sandoval has impressed at the plate this spring, batting a healthy .270/.329/.429 with six extra-base hits and a .757 through 70 plate appearances.