ANAHEIM, Calif. — Oakland Athletics rookie pitcher Shintaro Fujinami is being moved to the bullpen after struggling in his first four major league starts.
A’s manager Mark Kotsay said before the April 24 game against the Los Angeles Angels that the Japanese right-hander would be available for relief duty starting April 25.
Fujinami is 0-4 with a 14.40 ERA. He allowed eight runs on seven hits, with three walks, a hit batter and two wild pitches in 2 1/3 innings during the April 22 18-3 loss at Texas.
Kotsay said Fujinami was told April 23 about the plan going forward.
“It’s tough. We gave him four outings,” Kotsay said. “His fastball and splitter can be devastating and in shorter stints. We’re hopeful to get him out there to build his confidence back up and just continue to grow from there.”
The 29-year-old Fujinami signed a one-year, $3.25 million contract with Oakland after spending 10 seasons with the Central League’s Hanshin Tigers. He could earn an additional $1 million in performance bonuses for starts.
Kotsay did not rule out a return to the rotation at some point, provided Fujinami can turn things around in the bullpen.
“We’re continuing to talk to Fuji. He’s getting more comfortable with us,” Kotsay said. “He did make reference it is different here, but he likes it. He has started to be more open and communicating, and then we got him in the right direction.”