Fukudome, bobblehead hits with Cubs
Piniella not worried by outfielder's tough stretch at plate
CHICAGO -- It took Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano five years before he had a bobblehead doll. It took Kosuke Fukudome 50 games.
It was Kosuke Fukudome bobblehead night at Wrigley Field on Tuesday, and his teammates were eager to get a souvenir of the Cubs outfielder. Zambrano added Fukudome to his collection near his locker, and shortstop Ryan Theriot put his on his locker shelf.
"I like it, I like it," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said as he got his first look. "It's better than mine."
Fukudome wasn't so sure.
"Everybody tells me it doesn't look like like me," Fukudome said through interpreter Ryuji Araki.
Fukudome entered Tuesday's game against Dodgers pitcher and countryman Hiroki Kuroda batting .294, the first time he's been under .300 all season. He went 2-for-4, including a two-out RBI double in the seventh, to improve to .301.
"He's still learning the league," Piniella said.
Maybe other teams have figured the left-handed-hitting outfielder out?
"He's going to hit," Piniella said. "He's just in a little bit of a rut. We've had a few people here who've had some struggles. He's a good professional hitter, and he'll be fine."
Fukudome did get a single against Kuroda in the fourth.
"I think I had a little bit of an edge compared to facing a pitcher I've never seen before," Fukudome said. "I'm trying to do something different every day. It just happened that whatever I changed worked out today."
Piniella's Japanese hasn't improved, but he is able to communicate with the outfielder just fine.
"He's quiet, but he's got a personality," Piniella said. "He can laugh. He's a good young man. No maintenance whatsoever. He plays hard, and I'll tell you what, he gets a little upset when he's not doing well. You can see it in his demeanor, which is good."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.