Arlington, Texas - The Texas Rangers today announced that the club has signed free agent right-handed pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa (pronounced kiy-YOO-jee foo-jee-KAH-wuh) to a one-year major league contract for 2015 with a club option for 2016.
Fujikawa, 34, saw his first major league action with the Chicago Cubs in 2013-14, making 27 total appearances the past two seasons due to 'Tommy John' ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow on June 11, 2013. He has gone 1-1 with 2 saves and a 5.04 ERA (14 ER/25.0 IP) in those 27 career relief outings in MLB, posting 31 strikeouts against 8 walks. He went 14 months between appearances for the Cubs due to the elbow surgery, but returned in August and compiled a 4.85 ERA (7 ER/13.0 IP) over 15 outings in 2014.
Before joining the Cubs, Fujikawa spent 12 seasons (2000, 2002-12) with the Hanshin Tigers in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) Central League. He had a 42-25 record with 220 saves and a 1.77 ERA over 562 games/14 starts in Japan, compiling a career 0.963 WHIP with 11.9 strikeouts per 9 innings. Fujikawa's 201 saves for Hanshin from 2007-12 ranked second in NPB, and opponents batted just .175 over his final 9 seasons in Japan (2004-12).
He pitched for Japan when his country won the first two World Baseball Classic titles in both 2006 and 2009, and also appeared in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He won the NPB Central League Most Valuable Setup Pitcher Award in 2005, when he earned the first of two All-Star selections. From 2005-07, he became the first reliever to ever post 3 consecutive seasons of 100-or-more strikeouts in Japan. Over 4 seasons from 2005-08, Fujikawa had the lowest ERA among NPB relief qualifiers on 3 occasions (minimum 44.1 IP).
RANGERS SIGN TWO TO MINORS DEALS: The Rangers have also signed infielder Tommy Field and first baseman Kyle Blanks to minor league contracts with invitations to major league spring training.
Field, 27, split last season with Salt Lake (Angels Triple-A) and Indianapolis (Pirates Triple-A), batting .286 (97-339) with 7 home runs and 42 RBI in 90 games. He is a career .224 hitter in 33 games in the major leagues with Colorado (2011-12) and Los Angeles-AL (2013). Field was born in Austin and went to high school at Waco Midway, and he was drafted out of Texas State University in San Marcos.
Blanks, 28, combined to bat .309 (17-55) with 2 home runs and 7 RBI over 26 games at the major league level with the Padres and Athletics last season. At the minor league level, he compiled a .298 average (31-104) with 10 home runs and 23 RBI in 34 games between El Paso and Sacramento. The right-handed batter and thrower has hit .234 (178-760) with 30 home runs and 105 RBI in 260 major league games.
Blanks owns a .286 (38-133) average with 7 home runs and 23 RBI against left-handed pitchers in the majors the past two seasons, compiling a .377 on-base percentage. He also has a career average of .303 with 99 home runs and 420 RBI over 587 games in the minor leagues.