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Year three for Fukudome begins with a shift to right
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff

With Marlon Byrd joining the Cubs, outfielder Kosuke Fukudome likely will be shifted from center to right field, a more comfortable position for him.


Bruce Miles | Daily Herald

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Published: 2/20/2010 4:50 PM

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MESA, Ariz. - Kosuke Fukudome had a little trouble from the get-go Saturday.

He couldn't get in the front door of Fitch Park.

After a reporter helped him with the new touch pad, Fukudome reported for spring training and took part in a light workout.

With Marlon Byrd here to play center field, Fukudome can move from center back to right, his preferred position.

"I'm OK with each position, either center field or right field," Fukudome said through his interpreter. "Whatever the position I'm going to be in, that's the position I'm going to play. If I think about the number of games that I've played, I've been playing right field a lot more. So in that case, I think right field is a lot better.

"I think there's definitely a possibility I can get a Gold Glove in right field better than playing in center."

Now entering the third season of a four-year, $48 million contract, Fukudome batted .259 last season, up slightly from his 2008 average of .257. He did put up a solid on-base percentage of .375.

"We're going to move him back to right field," said manager Lou Piniella. "I think that will help him. We tried moving him to center. He did a fairly nice job out there defensively, but I think he'll feel more comfortable in right field, and I think that will help his hitting out, too."

Fukudome figures to bat second most day, with Ryan Theriot hitting first.

"If I can pick, then I will like to be first," Fukudome said.

Who's on second? Lou Piniella says spring training will determine the starting second baseman: Jeff Baker or Mike Fontenot. Baker bats right-handed while Fontenot is one of the few left-handed hitters on the club.

"We'll let them compete," Piniella said. "Baker last year did a real nice job. Fontenot had a really good first year. We'll see how it shakes out this spring. I'm comfortable with either of them.

"Remember, we don't have much left-hand hitting. Whoever plays better here in the spring will get the job. It's open competition."

Rainy day: Rain and cool wind cut Saturday's workout short.

"We just beat the weather," Lou Piniella said. "We got our conditioning in, and the most important thing, the pitchers got their throwing in. We really didn't miss much."

Eye opener: The Cubs like 22-year-old right-hander Rafael Dolis, whom they added to the 40-man roster over the winter after he pitched at Class A Daytona last year following Tommy John surgery in 2007 and missing 2008.

The arm seems to have bounced back, and the team likes the life on Dolis' fastball.