Fujikawa may need more time in Minors

Fujikawa may need more time in Minors

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers reliever Kyuji Fujikawa is in a similar situation as Neftali Feliz was last spring. The answer may be the same.

The Rangers may need to have Fujikawa start the season in Triple-A Round Rock and continue his recovery from Tommy John surgery. Fujikawa was once a dominant closer in Japan and spent the past two seasons with the Cubs.

But he underwent Tommy John surgery on June 11, 2013 and, although he pitched 15 games at the end of last season, Fujikawa may not be ready for a primetime role in the bullpen.

He pitched two innings against Minor Leaguers in a B game on Friday, allowing one run on three hits and walk with one strikeout. His fastball, normally an explosive pitch for him, was topping out at 90 miles per hour.

"I think it's going well," Fujikawa said. "I'm doing exercises for the elbow and shoulder and it's going well. As I throw more pitches and strengthen my elbow and shoulder, it's getting better."

Feliz came to camp last season appearing to be a lock to make the team. But he struggled with his command and mechanics, and was optioned to Triple-A to begin the season. He pitched in 24 games there before being recalled in July and becoming the Rangers' closer again.

Fujikawa has made his last two outings in B games. The Rangers would like to see him against Major League hitters so they get a better read on him.

"He feels good," manager Jeff Banister said. "The velocity is not there, but it continues to spark up. The guy falls into the category of post-surgery and he is going through the process."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.