Filed: March 28th. 2009 Kosuke Fukudome (Cubbie Nation/file)
I have to tell you, I'm not always fond of Spring Training. Aside from the fact that I think it's normally about a week too long, and the coverage much too spotty for consumption, my interest in watching "prospects" ranks just behind my feelings about rookies. And you know what I think of them.
But it was with great interest that I caught the Cubs and White Sox game Friday afternoon, as it featured the first spring appearance of Kosuke Fukudome. And even better, it was exactly as Lou intends to use him: in center field, and hitting second—even if in this case it was against the left-handed Clayton Richard.
The result? Shaky.
I suppose that you could find some comfort in the fact that he did go 1-for-4 on the day, before exiting the game in favor of Joey Gathright. And the hit came against Richard, giving at least some temporary hope that a strict platoon with Reed Johnson might not be required.
Personally, I was happy to see him staying in the box better on the breaking balls and not flinching on inside heat as much, which Sox relievers looked all too happy to work him over with.
But Richard gave what may have been the worst performance by a starter in a Cactus League game that I've personally seen in some time, getting pulled after only 1/3 inning of work, so I'm not sure if a soft-liner over the second baseman's head against him counts for much.
And while his range in center looked good, losing Josh Fields's ground-rule double in the sun didn't make me feel better about the experiment.
Manager Lou Piniella says he wants to find Fukudome more at-bats. After watching his .200 performance in the WBC—with no extra-base hits—I'd be thinking hard about letting him play everyday up until camp breaks.