Fukudome plunked, gets RBI in debut

Fukudome plunked, gets RBI in debut

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukudome received a rather rude welcome to the Cactus League on Thursday. In his first at-bat in the first inning, he was hit on the right arm by the first pitch he saw from San Francisco's Noah Lowry.

"I couldn't get out of the way," Fukudome said through interpreter Ryuji Araki. "If that's the way it goes, that's the way it goes."

In his second at-bat against right-hander Billy Sadler in the second, Fukudome walked. He added an RBI single in the third off Kevin Correia, which bounced over the third baseman and gave the Cubs a 7-1 lead, and was then lifted for a pinch-runner.

"I love that chopper -- that's classic," Cubs shortstop Ryan Theriot said. "I've been waiting for it and expecting it. I'd like to think if I would hit left-handed, I would hit like that."

"I saw that there was a lot of room on that side," Fukudome said, "so I was hoping the ball would go where I wanted to go, and it just happened to go where I wanted it to go."

"He looks like he's a good hitter," Correia said. "He has the approach of the good Japanese hitters who come over here with good bat control."

After the game, Fukudome was surrounded by about a dozen Japanese reporters. He is the 10th Japanese position player to come to the Major Leagues, but the first for the Cubs.

"I'm very happy that everybody is watching back home in Japan," Fukudome said.

The right fielder did not have a putout in the game. He has had to deal with non-Japanese outfielders while playing for the Chunichi Dragons, such as Alex Ochoa, so he learned early to say "I got it" in English.

"I've heard him yell, and he sounds fine," Cubs outfielder Sam Fuld said.

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The two did bump during one round of outfield drills, but Fuld said it was because they both said "I got it" at the same time.

On Thursday, Fukudome was on the Cubs' back field with some other players working on stealing bases.

"He's got some quick feet," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "I'm looking forward to seeing him play."

Fukudome also has a sense of humor. While Theriot was being interviewed in the visitors' clubhouse, Fukudome picked up a banana and stuck it in the shortstop's face as if it were a tape recorder or microphone.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.