Cubs add Taguchi for outfield depth

Cubs add Taguchi for outfield depth

CHICAGO -- So Taguchi thought his season was "totally over," when he received a surprising phone call Tuesday night.

Taguchi was in St. Louis, where he played six seasons with the Cardinals, and the call came from a Chicago number. He didn't pick it up.

"I don't have any friends in Chicago, so [I thought] maybe this was a wrong [number] and I just ignored it maybe for two hours," Taguchi said.

Finally, Taguchi's agent got in touch with him and told him he should call the Chicago number back. With Sam Fuld and Reed Johnson sidelined with injuries, the Cubs had selected the 40-year-old outfielder's contract from Triple-A Iowa more than a week after the team's season ended.

Taguchi was in uniform for Wednesday's game against the Brewers. He had spent the entire season with Iowa, hitting .248 and playing all three outfield positions. In seven Major League seasons with the Cardinals and Phillies, he is a .279 hitter. Before coming to the United States, Taguchi played 10 seasons for the Orix Blue Wave of the Japanese League.

"The only center fielder that we had here was [Kosuke] Fukudome, so we protected ourselves with Taguchi," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "We're going to get him a little work out in center field with [outfield coach Mike Quade], and we'll get him out there to play from time to time."

Piniella said Taguchi might play as early as the Cubs' series finale against the Brewers on Thursday.

Fuld strained his right thumb making a diving catch that saved a run during Chicago's 2-0 win over Milwaukee on Monday. He jammed the thumb into the ground on the play, tearing some cartilage, but he avoided a fracture and should return in about a week.

Johnson was not so lucky when he fouled a ball off his left foot on July 29. He was placed on the disabled list with a fracture the following day, and the injury has not healed as quickly as the team anticipated. Piniella said Johnson still is about a week away from returning.

"I'm just going to take it day to day," Johnson said. "The blood doesn't flow down there [in that part of the foot] like it does in other parts of the body. That's what speeds up the healing process. It's just kind of a bad spot. It's going to heal -- it's just a matter of when it's going to heal."

If Johnson is ready to come back this season, even for a few games, Piniella plans to give him the opportunity.

"Why not?" Piniella said. "I'd like to get him out there to play. This is important for Reed to show everyone he's nice and healthy and play the last 15 games or so. But we can't get him out there until he's capable, and right now, he's getting close, but he's not quite there."

In the meantime, Taguchi will get some playing time in center. He said he talked to Piniella and understands his role.

"I'm a baseball player," Taguchi said, "so my role is, if skipper says, 'Go,' I have to go. That's it."

Andrew Simon is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.