Fukudome demonstrates dazzling 'D'

Fukudome demonstrates defense

MESA, Ariz. -- There were nearly 50 scouts in the stands at HoHoKam Park on Thursday, and most of them came to check out the Cubs' stock of pitchers. But they'll also be sending a note to their parent clubs regarding the Cubs' new right fielder.

Kosuke Fukudome made a great defensive catch in the Cubs' 3-2 win over the San Diego Padres when he robbed Jody Gerut of a possible extra-base hit to end the third. Fukudome jumped to snare the ball at the wall, and made a 360-degree spin.

"I didn't really have to jump, but I kind of exaggerated a little to catch the ball," Fukudome said through interpreter Ryuji Araki.

As Fukudome came back to the dugout, his teammates were there to give him high fives -- and he bowed in return to Carlos Zambrano, who was waiting at the top step. He had to be pretty fast to catch up to that ball.

"It's my average, nothing special," he said, trying to downplay his speed.

Fukudome batted fifth on Thursday for the first time this spring, a move prompted by Cubs manager Lou Piniella's decision to get a left-handed bat between some of his right-handed hitters.

"He's a good hitter, he's a professional hitter," Piniella said of the Japanese outfielder, who is now hitting behind Aramis Ramirez.

"Ramirez is a real good RBI man," Piniella said. "We need somebody hitting behind him who will allow Ramirez to swing the bat. Fukudome basically puts the ball in play, can put the ball in the gap, shows occasional power. I think he'll have an opportunity to drive in a lot of runs that way."

Asked about the switch, Fukudome said it didn't matter. He has hit third most of the time in Japan, and this spring, has batted second and third.

On Thursday, he was 1-for-4, and scored a run on Sam Fuld's sacrifice fly in the fourth. Fukudome is batting .259 this spring.

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