Cubs manager Lou Piniella has all but written off right fielder Kosuke Fukudome for the rest of the playoffs and maybe longer.
"From now on, I don't want to hear about Fukudome anymore as far as whether he's going to play or not," Piniella bellowed after Thursday night's 10-3 loss to the Dodgers in which Fukudome went 0-for-4, making him 0-for-8 in the National League division series.
"I'm going to play Reed Johnson or somebody else, and that's the end of that story. The kid is struggling, and there's no sense of sending him out there anymore."
Before the game, Piniella was asked about Fukudome
"It's a mystery," Piniella said. "I don't have explanations for it. I really don't. What does he say? You all talk to him?"
After a strong first two months of the season, Fukudome struggled badly in the second half, hitting .217 after the all-star break.
"It's been a long time," Piniella said. "I've had as much patience with him as I've had with anybody I've ever managed. We've played him. We've moved him around in the lineup with the thought of, 'Well, this'll get him going. This'll get him going. This'll get him going.'
"It's been a struggle for this young man. I feel for him. He's a good young man, and he plays hard, and he wants to do well."
A reporter told Piniella that Fukudome said that deep down, he knew this might happen.
"He thought it might happen?" Piniella said. "He knows what to expect now. What does he say for next year?"
One option Piniella had Thursday was to sit Fukudome, move Mark DeRosa to right field and play Mike Fontenot at second base. That might happen when the series moves to Los Angeles on Saturday.
The silly season: Apparently, team chairman Crane Kenney has bought into the whole notion that a "curse" is hanging over the Cubs.
That had to be why Kenney summoned a Greek Orthodox priest to spread holy water throughout the Cubs' dugout before Wednesday's opener.
Lou Piniella wasn't buying it.
"There's no curses here," Piniella said. "I don't know how many times I have to answer about curses. Who did it? Crane graduated from Notre Dame. He might have had somebody from South Bend.
"I don't believe in those things. I really don't. I've said it many times. Good pitching, good defense and timely hitting. Those are the ingredients that win baseball games. I saw it a little bit on TV. I saw the sprinkling. The other guy's praying, too. God doesn't care about a baseball game."
Nighty-night: The Cubs won't travel to L.A. until today. They'll hold a light workout this evening at Dodger Stadium in preparation for Saturday's Game 3.
Normally, the Cubs would leave town right after the game, but they chose not to leave Thursday night. But they consulted with a "sleep doctor."
"Yeah, a sleep doctor," Lou Piniella said. "Really, we asked, and they thought it would be better to leave at noon and get there in the middle of the afternoon. Get a good night's sleep tonight as opposed to flying all night and getting in at 4 or 4:30 in the morning, 5 o'clock, going to bed in a hotel room, sleeping until 4 in the afternoon or until 2 or 3, and then you don't sleep the next night."