NCAA

Cubs finalize $9.5M, 2-year deal with Fujikawa

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Cubs finalize $9.5M, 2-year deal with Fujikawa

CHICAGO (AP) After watching Hideo Nomo, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Ichiro Suzuki, Kyuji Fujikawa determined he's ready for the major leagues.

``When I was still a student, I saw Nomo made it to the United States, and that was a big factor for me,'' Fujikawa said through a translator Friday after finalizing a $9.5 million, two-year contract with the Chicago Cubs.

``Also, Matsuzaka, who is the same age as I am, struggled a little bit, but his challenge really gave me the motivation to come over here, as well as Ichiro challenge to the major leagues, that motivated me to come over.''

The 32-year-old right-hander had 220 saves in 12 seasons with the Hanshin Tigers of Japan's Central League. He played for Japan at the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics and the 2008 Olympics.

``Facing better-quality hitters was one of my motivations,'' Fujikawa said.

He joins a team remaking its pitching staff. Without a World Series title since 1908, the Cubs went 61-101 this year for their first 100-loss season since 1966.

``Rather than add a high quantity of buy-low guys and hope some quality emerged, we felt like we were in a position where we could add one or two quality bullpen pieces because we have some interesting arms to fill out the rest of the pen,'' Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. ``We were looking for one or two pieces where we felt good about the investment.''

Carlos Marmol, nearly traded to the Los Angeles Angels last month, remains the Cubs' closer as Fujikawa gets used to pitching for Chicago.

``There's going to be an adjustment,'' Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. ``We're crazy to think he's going to go right into the season and have no issues. Things will come up. We know that's a part of it.''

Fujikawa's strikeouts per nine innings decreased from 13.5 in 2005 to 11.0 this year, when injuries limited his innings and strikeouts to his lows since 2004.

``He's not a guy that tricks you. He really comes right after guys,'' Hoyer said. ``Guys who rely too much on trickery can often be guys that the league figures out quickly. Our hope is that because he pitches with his fastball that he'll be able to pitch to a game plan and be able to establish himself.''

Fujikawa will wear No. 11 with the Cubs.

``I was No. 22 with the Hanshin Tigers, but to have a better career than No. 22, I went younger with two ones,'' he said.

Fujikawa gets a $1 million signing bonus, and $4 million salaries in each of the next two seasons. The deal includes a $5.5 million option for 2015 with a $500,000 buyout and the price could escalate to $6 million based on games.

Other new additions to Chicago's staff include Scott Baker and Scott Feldman.

``From Day 1 when I visited here a few weeks ago, I really loved the city,'' Fujikawa said. ``From that day on, it was Cubs, Cubs, Cubs.''

Former Maryland DL Mojo Rawley tells Mike Locksley how the Gronkowski brothers got him into WWE

Former Maryland DL Mojo Rawley tells Mike Locksley how the Gronkowski brothers got him into WWE

With Wrestlemania 36 underway this weekend, Maryland football coach Mike Locksley sat down on Instagram Live with former Terps defensive lineman and current WWE superstar Mojo Rawley to talk about his new career path. 

Rawley's real name is Dean Muhtadi, and he played for the Terps in for two years as a Division III transfer. He finished third on team in sacks that season and despite going undrafted in 2009, found his way to an NFL camp with the Packers. 

Muhtadi spent 2009 with Green Bay and 2010 with the Cardinals before suffering an injury that landed him on injured reserve. It was then where Muhtadi found a new career path thanks to two of his best friends. 

"Dan Gronkowski and Chris Gronkowski played with me at Maryland, two of my closest friends," Rawley said on "Late Night With Locks". "Their dad was one of our coach's roommates in the WWE, so it seemed like a natural fit. We were watching together, and I kinda made a comment like, 'this would be awesome if I could be one of [the wrestlers]. Mr. Gronk made the call and the rest was history."

Rawley has been a WWE superstar and currently stands as Rob Gronkowski's hype man. The former Patriots tight end is WWE's most recent signee and is Wrestlemania 36's host.

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The Rock's cheat day, what the Watt brothers are up to, Marcus Stroman get his reps in

The Rock's cheat day, what the Watt brothers are up to, Marcus Stroman get his reps in

First up in Saturday's round-up of the best sports moments on the internet, everyone is trying to stick to as normal of a routine as they can while at home. Quarantine wasn’t going to keep Dwayne Johnson aka “The Rock” away from his “cheat day”. Have you ever seen french toast this big in your life? 


Next up, the Watt brothers have been staying in shape working out together and they even have a football field coming soon. Check out JJ Watt painting the lines. He says he has a new respect for groundskeepers now. The stage is set for the Watt brothers!


Finally, no bullpen, no problem! Mets starting pitcher Marcus Stroman sets up a makeshift bullpen on his boat dock and it even has a mound. Now that is a beautiful place to get your reps in! 

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