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Fukudome adapting well to clubhouse

Fukudome adapting well

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MESA, Ariz. -- Kosuke Fukudome seems to be just one of the guys in the Cubs clubhouse.

He's played a little golf on his half-days with teammates, and learned to finish his interviews with the Japanese media on the road quickly so he can jump on the early van for the shuttle back to the Cubs' home park.

He joked with media services coordinator Katelyn Thrall that she's now a "Japan star" after her photo was included in a Japanese newspaper story about how the Cubs media relations department is handling the outfielder. The story, by the way, was very positive.

"I don't think Kosuke needed to adjust too much to begin with," Japanese pitcher Shingo Takatsu said about the outfielder. "He's blended in with the team."

Lou Piniella, who managed Ichiro Suzuki in Seattle, has noticed that Japanese players who come to the Major Leagues now seem more relaxed. Fukudome is the 10th Japanese position player to come to the big leagues.

"In Fukudome's case, I love the fact he took the No. 1 on his back," Piniella said. "That tells me a lot about the individual.

"He expects to do well," Piniella said. "I don't think a player takes No. 1 if he has doubts. He's very confident -- a very confident young man."

The right fielder, who was batting .261 in 10 games this spring, hasn't sequestered himself in the batting cage for the extra sessions he was known for in Japan.

"I just let the schedule fit to my schedule, and I haven't found a need to," Fukudome said through interpreter Ryuji Araki.

As for his golf game, Fukudome was asked about his handicap.

"I can't play in the PGA," he said.

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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