Fukudome likened to Ichiro-Matsui hybrid
MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago is anxious to extend its hands and hearts to Kosuke Fukudome. If he fulfills the hype, there will be an abundance of standing ovations, Wrigley Field curtain calls and laudatory Jay Mariotti columns coming his way over the next several months.But as Fukudome nears the end of his first week in a Major League Baseball clubhouse, even the most erudite, well-educated Cubs could use a primer on how to relate to their new teammate.
Left fielder Matt Murton, a former Georgia Tech management major, readily concedes that he doesn't know a word of Japanese."I took Spanish in school," Murton said, "but that doesn't even help me with the Latin American guys in here. I got A's and B's all the way through [school], and I still don't know what I'm talking about."
My strength is, when I make a mistake I forget about it very quickly and prepare for the next play or the next pitch.
Fukudome hit two home runs for Japan at the World Baseball Classic in 2006, and had the look of a player who's comfortable on a big stage."He likes the action," Hendry said. That's good, because Fukudome will be scrutinized more thoroughly than Kelvin Sampson's phone bill once he arrives in Chicago.
Fukudome fills several needs for the Cubs, who ranked eighth in the National League in runs scored last year while generating almost no power from the left side. Cliff Floyd and Jacque Jones, the team's top lefty power threats, combined to hit 14 homers in 735 at-bats.
Fukudome's personality also seems ideal for the mania he will generate as the Cubs' first Japanese player. While Ichiro can be cryptic and distant with the press corps and Matsui is gregarious as a rule, Fukudome falls somewhere in the middle. He's soft-spoken and understated, but smiles easily and likes to mingle -- even after workouts, when he signs baseballs and tosses them to fans over a chain-link fence at Fitch Park.Fukudome receives help in interviews from interpreter Ryuji Araki, a former minor league trainer in the Cincinnati Reds' chain, and has no difficulty articulating his thoughts.
Last 5 seasons in Japan
|*Appeared in only 81 games due to elbow injury|