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Japan’s earthquake, tsunami grab attention of Cubs, Fukudome

MESA, Ariz. ­— The Cubs-Sox matchup this afternoon took a faraway back seat to coverage of the massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan that blared from the TV in the Cubs’ clubhouse this morning - with players eventually gathering to watch some of the most dramatic images.

At one point, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry checked on Japan native Kosuke Fukudome - who periodically used his bat handle to point and tap on the TV screen and speak in Japanese to his translator, Hiro Aoyama - to make sure Fukudome’s family was OK back home.

Through Aoyama, Fukudome said he was able to reach his brother, who was fine. And although he couldn’t reach his parents through busy phone lines, he presumed they, too, were fine because they live in the southern part of the country, far from the worst damage.

On the minds of several players was former teammate Micah Hoffpauir, who left the organization over the winter to play in Japan.

``That’s the first thing I thought of, that he’s over there,’’ said pitcher Jeff Stevens, who learned through a mutual friend that Hoffpauir was 300 miles from the quake and out of harm’s way.

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