Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Fuke Box Hero

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Based on casual conversations among media at Cubs camp the past few days, some of the shine seems to have worn off new guy Kosuke Fukudome. Whether it's Lou creating a few more expectations by slotting him third in his projected lineup or just the fact we've all seen the guy every day for two weeks now, more skepticism seems to be creeping into the talk. Will he be able to hit those ``moving fastballs'' he says he's not used to seeing? Can he handle the hype and pressure that comes with batting third in his first year in the majors? And what kind of power does he have?

But just one day after Piniella publicly mentioned that he hadn't shown much power in early-spring BP and suggested that might take awhile to come, Fukudome yanked three balls over the fence Monday in BP.

Don't think for a minute this guy isn't paying attention to every detail in camp. Or that he isn't a serious enough and smart enough hitter to make an impact out of the gate. Despite modestly telling Japanese reporters that Monday's shots went out because of the wind and telling me that he only hit them because he happened to get some pitches in his wheelhouse, it seems pretty clear he made a point. And I wouldn't be surprised to see him go back Tuesday to slapping the ball to all fields and working on getting ready for this week's exhibition opener.

It reminds me of the story Piniella tells about Ichiro's first spring with Seattle. After watching Ichiro spend his first couple of exhibition games slapping balls down the third-base line with enough monotony that the third baseman and left fielder started hugging the line, Piniella asked Ichiro's interpreter whether the former Japanese star could pull the ball.

Next at-bat: Ichiro lined a ball over the right field wall. And uipon returning to the dugout, before Piniella could say anything, Ichiro said, in English, ``Happy now?''

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I think it is silly to be stressing over Fuku's power production at this point in camp. Besides, he wasn't brought here because he was a monster home run hitter anyway. He is a "get on base," hit it to all fields, doubles hitter with occasional power. From my perspective, as a hitter, he is Mark Grace. And that ain't all bad.
So give it a rest with the hand-wringing over his "lack of power." Fukodome will do exactly what they brought him here to do.

I wonder what Hendry's thinking about Fukudome now seeing as it's probably the first time he ever saw him play live...

Mark Grace... with speed.

Good God, I'll take 10 Mark Grace's on my team. He played hard, never made excuses, hit for average, OBP, and SCORING RUNS.
Mark, I apologize on behalf of all Cubdumb, for not playing more of your type of player, and having Corky 'Fidel Castro' Sosa PopHopping and having his puss arm to throw lolly pops all over the place. Homers are overrated. Look at the Yankees. Idiots on the North Side brew house, they keep winning over and over again because of talent. Not homers.......Oh, by the way, Mr. Grace smoked Winstons, drank beer, and rode a fricking Harley. He IS a hall of famer.....

.1000 on base percentage after game one.

The last time I checked, no one is in the Hall of Fame because of his spring training stats. Good players take the opportuninty to work on things in spring training so they won't have to do it during the season when they need to save their energy. Let's wait until were 30 games into the season to evaluate Fukudome. We know that he is a high on-base percentage guy and god knows the Cubs need as many of those as they can get. I am sick and tired of seeing runners get stranded on third base with less than two outs because someone can't put the ball in play.

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on February 26, 2008 1:15 AM.

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