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Fukudome besting Ichiro ... for now

Fukudome besting Ichiro ... for now

MESA, Ariz. -- Ichiro Suzuki has been in the Major Leagues since 2001. This is Kosuke Fukudome's first season, but the rookie has the edge so far this spring.

Fukudome was 1-for-3 with a double and scored a run for the Cubs in a 6-4 win Friday over Ichiro's Seattle Mariners. Ichiro would probably take that one hit. He's 0-for-10 so far this spring.

Told that he has more hits than Ichiro, Fukudome laughed.

"It's just Spring Training," Fukudome said through interpreter Ryuji Araki.

Ichiro has twice won the American League batting title, doing so in his first year and then again in 2004. He's still trying to get a feel for things heading into the regular season.

Fukudome, the Cubs' first Japanese player, is now batting .333, but has impressed the team with his other skills. On Friday, he showed off his base running ability when he reached third on Derrek Lee's double.

"He knows how to run the bases," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said of his new right fielder. "He scoots around the bases pretty good. He makes a nice turn, cuts the angles really well. He knows how to play."

Fukudome downplayed his running.

"Don't compliment me too much on that," he said.

Piniella, who managed Ichiro in Seattle, says Fukudome is still getting comfortable in the desert.

"I don't think you'll see all of his game until the end of Spring Training," Piniella said. "This is more of a feeling out period for him, a learning period for him."

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

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