Team Japan is in the United States to participate in the 2nd round of the World Baseball Classic. Kosuke Fukodome is with the team and met with Cubs Manager Lou Pinella in Phoenix on Tuesday. Pinella had this to say of his Japanese center fielder: “He looks wonderful. He’s in really good shape. I told him we’re holding a spot for him, and we’ll put him out in center field and we’ll try him in the No. 2 hole in the lineup.”
Yes, you heard it right. Kosuke Fukodome batting 2nd for the Chicago Cubs in 2009. This coming from the Manager who got so frustrated with Fukodome at the end of the last season, that he told the media he didn’t want anymore questions about whether or not Fukodome would be in the lineup. Pinella simply said that Reed Johnson or Mike Fontenot would be in the lineup and that was it.
Now we know Pinella has indicated that Fukodome should be more acclimated to the major leagues this season and that he worked really hard in the off-season with the Japanese national team. But to anoint him the #2 hitter – without even seeing him play in person yet – - it seems a little bit crazy?! We think it would be a better move to go with a platoon between Fukodome and Reed Johnson in center field early on, and then go with the hot hand as the season progresses. But it seems like Pinella is committed to Fukodome being in the lineup whenever a righty is on the bump. Guess we’ll have to see how this all plays out. It would be great if Fukodome could become a more consistent player on the major league level. But until he shows he can do it over a full season, we’re of the more cautious approach, allowing Reed Johnson to log more innings in the early going.
As for non-baseball items – the Cubs have an off-day on Wednesday, and Pinella’s wife planned for the skipper to take a hot-air balloon ride in the area. We’ll keep you posted how it went.