OK, that's a cliche, but stick with me. It means something to today's conversation. Cubs right fielder Kosuke Fukudome ought to be the happiest man on the team about returning home to Wrigley Field, where the Cubs open a three-game weekend series against the D'Backs beginning tomorrow.
Fukudome has absolutely torn it up at Wrigley Field this year while struggling on the road. At home, he's 26-for-58 for a .448 batting average. He also has a .543 on-base percentage at Wrigley Field and a .638 slugging percentage.
Away from the Friendly Confines, it's a different story. He's 14-for-67 (.209) with an OBP of .289 and a slugging percentage of .299.
Here's where it gets more interesting: In day games, Fukudome is 26-for-64 for a .406 batting average. He has an OBP of .500 in natural light. During night games, Fukudome is 14-for-61 (.230) with an OBP of .314. As long as Fukudome is around, maybe the Cubs ought to shelve the idea of wanting more night games at Wrigley Field.
Like many of his teammates, including Derrek Lee and Mark DeRosa, Fukudome didn't have the greatest of road trips, going 4-for-23 against the Cardinals and Reds. My friends in the Japanese media tell me pitchers in Japan throw a lot of split-finger pitches and forkballs, but not a lot of changeups. Over here, Fukudome is seeing a whole lot of changeups of late, and it'll be up to him to adjust. Let's keep an eye on this.
On to other things for an off-day:
--It looks like the Cubs won't carry 13 pitchers after all when Scott Eyre comes off the DL Saturday. That means somebody on the pitching staff will have to go. The easiest choice probably will be Sean Gallagher, who came up when Rich Hill got optioned to Iowa last Saturday. If that happens, manager Lou Piniella probably will give Jon Lieber at least one more start, next week against the Padres at Wrigley Field. Lefty Sean Marshall probably needs another extended relief outing or two to get stretched out.
--Catcher Geovany Soto is the early favorite for Rookie of the Year. Soto has shown last September's performance was for real.
--A lot of my regular readers and some on my favorite blogs and message boards keep waiting for shortstop Ryan Theriot to falter so Ronny Cedeno can take over. I've never understood this negative kind of thinking. Theriot is batting .331 with an OBP of .406. He deserves the benefit of the doubt until he shows he can't do it anymore. Go ahead and laugh about Theriot's alleged "grit," but he worked hard in the off-season to get himself into shape and to make adjustments with his swing. There's nothing wrong with a little grit as long as it's producing results.