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Takahashi aims for spot in Cubs bullpen

Takahashi aims for spot in Cubs bullpen

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Hisanori Takahashi will make his second spring start on Saturday for the Cubs, but it's not an audition for a spot in the rotation. The Japanese left-hander is hoping to secure a place in the bullpen.

"That's what I'm aiming for and that's why I'm on the mound," said Takahashi, through interpreter Ryo Shinkawa. "I think I do have an opportunity to make the team. I think I need to show what I'm good at and prove to the staff that I have a spot on the team, and I think my command, showing my pitches will be my sales point."

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Takahashi, 37, isn't going to overwhelm hitters. Asked the velocity of his fastball, he smiled.

"One hundred [mph]," Takahashi said, in English.

He's kidding. Takahashi has pitched for the Mets, Angels and Pirates, appearing in 51 games last season combined, and posting a 5.54 ERA.

"There's a lot of pitchers in Japan who are like [Greg] Maddux or [Jamie] Moyer, and I fit in that type of pitching," Takahashi said. "There's a pitcher in Japan named Masa Yamamoto, and he's 47 now, but he's still a current player in Japan."

Yamamoto is left-handed, which helps his longevity.

Lefty Chris Rusin, who started Thursday for the Cubs, also is an option for the bullpen, manager Dale Sveum said.

"I'm not going to sit here and say he's out of it," Sveum said of Rusin. "He's obviously throwing the ball well. Travis Wood is in the rotation and you want to take the best guys there, and a lot of times the best guy is another left-hander in the bullpen."

On Friday, the Cubs will play an exhibition game against Team Japan at HoHoKam Stadium. Takahashi was asked for the scouting report.

"They're definitely a good team and detail-oriented," Takahashi said. "They're good at doing the little things."

Maybe they're a little jet-lagged? The Japan team arrived Tuesday night and played the Giants on Thursday.

"That's an area to attack for the Cubs, probably," Takahashi said.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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