04/16/2013 11:30 PM ET
Banks, Williams join Cubs to honor Jackie
By Joey Nowak / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- There were flags lining the roof of the upper deck at Wrigley Field on Tuesday to match the jersey number all Cubs and Rangers players wore to honor Jackie Robinson.
Jackie Robinson Day is held each year on April 15 to commemorate the Hall of Famer who broke baseball's color barrier in 1947. The Cubs were off on Monday.
"We're happy to join all of Major League Baseball on this historic occasion," Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said in a statement. "Jackie Robinson is a true American hero, and we are all greatly indebted to his contribution to not only baseball, but to American history and culture."
The teams honored Robinson before the game Tuesday with a ceremony that included Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Billy Williams. Banks was the first black player to play for the Cubs.
Actor John C. McGinley threw out the ceremonial first pitch. He plays Brooklyn play-by-play announcer Red Barber in the movie, "42: The True Story of an American Legend," which was released in theaters last week.
McGinley also served as the guest conductor for the seventh-inning stretch. Seventeen-year-old Nikki Hayes, a senior at Plainfield East High School, performed the national anthem, and more than 300 Chicago Public School high school baseball players were on hand.
Barney back from season-opening DL
CHICAGO -- Darwin Barney's personal Opening Day came a little later than that of his teammates, but he was nonetheless excited.
The second baseman was activated from the disabled list before the Cubs' series opener against the visiting Rangers on Tuesday, after spending three games with Triple-A Iowa over the weekend. He was placed on the DL on April 1 with a left knee laceration suffered in the Cubs' final exhibition game this spring.
Barney went 0-for-4 in Chicago's 4-2 loss to Texas, and he had a potential game-tying hit taken away by Craig Gentry's diving catch for the final out of the game.
"I'm excited. I've been itching to get back out there," Barney said before the game. "It's kind of nice -- Opening Day you have all these jitters, but I don't have them right now because I've been around and I've been out there during the games and I just played [Monday]. So hopefully I can take that calmness into the games."
Barney said he stole a base, got a chance to slide and scored from first base on a double with Iowa. Everything checked out OK.
Barney hit 5-for-10 with one double and four runs in his rehab stint. He appeared in 156 games last year, batting .254 with seven homers, 44 RBIs and 73 runs scored. But the Cubs put a premium on his defense (he won a National League Gold Glove Award last season, his first full year in the Majors) and leadership from second base.
Chicago's second basemen have hit .194/.268/.306 in 12 games this year, and have combined for a .984 fielding percentage with one error.
"We're a team, so I don't think me coming back is going to make that big of a difference," Barney said. "It would be wrong for me to say that. But I'm excited to come out and contribute, help out as much as I can and hopefully things will go better."
No long-term worries for Fujikawa's arm
CHICAGO -- General manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday that reliever Kyuji Fujikawa did deal with some right arm discomfort toward the end of Spring Training, but the Cubs felt he was "ready to go" to start the year.
Fujikawa was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday with a muscle strain in his right forearm. He has started his Cubs career 1-0 with two saves despite a 12.46 ERA (six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings) through five appearances out of the bullpen.
"Long-term, no, it's not a concern," Hoyer said. "He's been feeling good the last couple days. We'll get him some rest and kind of let him get away from it a little bit. He dealt with this at the end of Spring Training, and didn't throw a lot at the end of spring, and we felt that would get him right. This possibly should've been done at the end of spring going into the season, but we thought he was ready to go."
Fujikawa was named the closer after Carlos Marmol struggled early this year, but lately the Cubs have had to fare with a mix of relievers late in games. Hoyer said the team wants Fujikawa, who was signed to a two-year deal this winter after spending the last 12 seasons as a closer in Japan, to take some time recovering.
"It was really pretty obvious to everyone -- his command wasn't there, and this is a guy and that's really his strong suit," Hoyer said. "Watching him early in Spring Training, he had command of his fastball, and when he started losing that, you started wondering what a guy was covering up and what a guy's doing because of an injury, and his elbow was definitely barking."
• Matt Garza will make his first rehab start on Friday with Class A Kane County. He is expected to pitch two innings. Garza is coming back from a strained left lat muscle suffered Feb. 17 during a live batting-practice session in Spring Training.
• Scott Baker (strained right elbow) was in Chicago this weekend, and Hoyer said Baker is making progress, but there's no update or change to his timetable.
"We feel the progress has been good, but we're still in the rest period now," Hoyer said.