Fukudome makes call to test speed

Fukudome makes call to test speed

MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs manager Lou Piniella gave Kosuke Fukudome a choice on Saturday, and the outfielder chose to run.

Piniella asked Fukudome whether he wanted to be lifted for a pinch-runner if he got on base in the seventh inning, which was his last at-bat. Or, did Fukudome want to try and steal?

"He wanted to attempt a stolen base," Piniella said. "Let him run. The pitcher was fairly quick to home plate, and the catcher made a good throw. We want Fukudome to run, too, so it was good to get him started."

Fukudome did single, and did try to steal second but was thrown out in the Cubs' game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. But it was another chance for the Japanese outfielder to test his legs.

"He's a very good hitter, a very good player," Chicago's Alfonso Soriano said. "So far, I think he's played very well. I think he'll learn the league very quick. He runs well. He can help the team with the defense and the offense, too. Sometimes when you don't get a hit, he can help the team with his defense. He's a complete player and can do everything in the field."

Fukudome also has to deal with a crowd of Japanese media every day. They talk to him before each game and after.

"I'm a very patient man, so I'm OK with that," Fukudome said through interpreter Ryuji Araki.

When he played for the Chunichi Dragons in Japan, there weren't as many media around him, and they were not allowed in the locker room, so it was different.

"Right now, I have a little bit of value," Fukudome said.

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