MESA, Ariz. -- Check out the back of Carlos Zambrano's shoes. They now have both a Venezuelan flag on them and Zambrano's name written in Japanese kanji script.
Naoko Sato, a Nikkan Sports News reporter who covers Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukudome, translated Zambrano's name for him. The kanji characters each have a meaning, and Zambrano's begins with a character that means, "To hunt." So, Zambrano is a hunter on the mound.
The next is "the road," which translated into Zambrano going his own way. And three characters combined mean he scatters opponents, rips off his clothes -- not literally -- and dances on the mound. Anyone who has seen the right-hander pitch knows how animated he can be.
Sato then simplified the script, and the Cubs pitcher copied it onto the back of his shoes with a blue Sharpie. Where else can a Venezuelan pitcher have his name in Japanese on his shoes? What a country.
Cubs third-base coach Mike Quade teased Fukudome that he was going to play in both games of Wednesday's day-night doubleheader, although Zambrano volunteered to play right.
"I think I have a little better arm," Zambrano said.
"You're probably right," Fukudome said. "You have better control."
Fukudome started in right field Wednesday against Oakland, and had no problems after getting hit on the left side of his neck by a thrown ball while stealing a base the day before.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.