WASHINGTON -- When Kyuji Fujikawa last pitched for the Cubs in mid-April, he was the closer. On Friday, the Japanese right-hander was activated from the 15-day disabled list and won't be used in the late innings, manager Dale Sveum said.
"We'll ease him in right now to make sure everything is good -- velocity, command, life," Sveum said. "We'll ease him into whatever situation -- sixth, seventh inning, depending on the score of the game, obviously."
"Who knows what role I'll play in?" Fujikawa said through interpreter Ryo Shinkawa. "Whatever the manager says, I'll pitch in that role."
Fujikawa entered Friday's 7-3 loss to the Nationals in the seventh inning and faced the minimum. He did give up a hit to Ryan Zimmerman, but Zimmerman was thrown out at second by left fielder Alfonso Soriano when he tried to extend it to a double. Fujikawa also struck out a batter.
Fujikawa, 32, has been sidelined since April 13 with a strained right forearm. In two rehab games, he threw three scoreless innings, giving up one hit and walking one while striking out two. On Wednesday, he needed 16 pitches to throw two scoreless innings for Double-A Tennessee. He said he felt he got his rhythm back in the rehab outings.
In five relief appearances with the Cubs before he was injured, Fujikawa was 1-0 with two saves and a 12.46 ERA. Fujikawa did not like being sidelined.
"I let the team down, so I would like to contribute more," he said.
The Cubs optioned reliever Rafael Dolis, 25, to Triple-A Iowa to make room on the active roster for Fujikawa. Dolis did not give up an earned run in two relief appearances over two games with the Cubs. He had a 3.52 ERA in eight appearances at Iowa.
In other roster moves, reliever Kameron Loe was given his release. In seven games with the Cubs, Loe gave up five runs on 12 hits and four walks over 8 1/3 innings. He was acquired off waivers from the Mariners on April 15. He had been designated for assignment on Monday.
Castro plays leading man in opener with Nationals
WASHINGTON -- Starlin Castro was the Cubs' leadoff man Friday by default.
"It's just kind of process of elimination, really," manager Dale Sveum said of his lineup against Nationals lefty Ross Detwiler. "The two choices were him and [Cody] Ransom, and having Ransom in the lineup, hopefully, he'll hit a home run and I'd like him to do it with somebody on base."
David DeJesus is the Cubs' leadoff man against right-handed pitchers, and Sveum was using outfielder Dave Sappelt there against left-handers, but Sappelt was optioned to Triple-A Iowa on Monday after batting .178 in 20 games with the Cubs. The other possibility against southpaw starters is Julio Borbon, Sveum said.
In 74 career games as the leadoff man, Castro has a .319 average, .362 OBP and .459 slugging percentage. This season, he's batting .297 in the No. 2 hole, .282 when batting third and .296 hitting fifth.
"He's one of those hitters where he's going to be the same hitter no matter where you put him in the lineup," Sveum said.
Castro was looking forward to the switch.
"I like it," Castro said. "Wherever he puts me, I'll do my job.
It seemed to work as Castro went 2-for-5 -- doubling in his first two at-bats and driving in a run on his second -- in Friday's 7-3 loss to the Nationals. He also scored a run in the first.
"It doesn't matter where he puts me. Everywhere he puts me, I'll try to do my job."
For Jackson, it's pleasure before business in D.C.
WASHINGTON -- Edwin Jackson caught up with his former teammates on the Nationals prior to Friday's game. On Saturday, it'll be all business when the Cubs right-hander faces Washington and Stephen Strasburg.
"He's a great pitcher," Jackson said of Strasburg. "It'll be a lot of fun. Whether it was Gio [Gonzalez], whether it was Stras', whether it was Jordan [Zimmermann], whether it was [Ross] Detwiler, it doesn't matter who will be on the mound. If it was Gio, there'd probably be a little bit more trash talking."
Jackson has never faced Strasburg, not even in a Spring Training game.
"It's going to be fun," Jackson said. "I get to face 98 [mph] tomorrow. I talked to Stras' and told him I'll be ready to swing it. Once the game starts, it'll be no friends, and they'll be trying to get me and I'll be trying to get them."
Jackson signed a four-year, $52 million contract with the Cubs in the offseason and enters Saturday's game 0-5 with a 6.39 ERA.
"It's been a slow start, to say the least," he said. "It's not exactly how I had it envisioned. I feel good mentally, physically. I'm ready to go. I'll continue to work hard and continue to grind out the season and finish strong."
• Matt Garza will make his third Minor League rehab outing on Saturday, when he takes the mound for Double-A Tennessee. Garza, who has been sidelined since mid-February with a strained left lat, started for the Smokies on May 1, throwing 2 2/3 innings. He is expected to make at least one more start after Saturday.
• Four of the Cubs' starting pitchers are making it tough on opposing batters.
Travis Wood (.179), Scott Feldman (.200), Carlos Villanueva (.209), and Jeff Samardzija (.210) rank third, seventh, 11th and 13th in the National League in opponents' batting average. The Cubs' starters lead the Major Leagues with a combined .216 opponents' batting average.
"It's good to have a low one," Feldman said Friday, "but sometimes that stuff is out of your control, and you give up hard-hit balls and they're right at guys. You can give up hits on broken bats. Usually at the end of the season, that stuff evens out. If you keep the ball out of the middle of the plate, it helps."
• The Cubs on Friday traded infielder Alberto Gonzalez to the Yankees for future considerations. Gonzalez made the Cubs' Opening Day roster, primarily to help in the infield while Darwin Barney was on the disabled list. In 11 games with the Cubs, he was 5-for-23 (.217).
• Cubs top prospect Javier Baez had two hits, including a double and a triple, and stole a base in Class A Daytona's 4-3 win over Dunedin on Thursday. Baez was batting .244 overall. Dustin Geiger had two hits and raised his team-leading RBIs total to 29.
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.