Former Hanshin Tigers closing relief ace Kyuji Fujikawa will officially join his new Chicago Cubs teammates on Sunday when the Major League Baseball club's pitchers and catchers report for pre-season camp.
Fujikawa has spent the past week in Arizona ahead of Tuesday's start of workouts with the team after signing a two-year deal with the Cubs in December. His family has remained in Japan while he adjusts to America.
"I'm ready," Fujikawa said through a translator in a posting on the Cubs website. "To make this a successful transition, I want to concentrate on baseball and make that successful first."
The Cubs, whose only prior Japanese player was outfielder Kosuke Fukudome from 2008-2011, will have to adjust as well as pitching coach Chris Bosio and manager Dale Sveum do not speak Japanese.
Major League Baseball has approved allowing translators to accompany managers or coaches to the mound if needed.
"From my own perspective, it would definitely help," Fujikawa said.
Fujikawa hopes to contend for the closer role with the Cubs.
"The decision is not up to me but the coaches," Fujikawa said. "My job is to get outs and, as I do that, I'll try to make it a tougher decision for the coaches to make."
After seeking advice on the transition from other Japanese players in the North American leagues, Fujikawa found the key suggestion was a simple one.
"They all pointed out that it's important to be your own self and not change too much," he said.