Cubs prepared for more changes after Kosuke Fukudome trade
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com July 28, 2011 8:36PM
Cubs catcher Geovany Soto tags out Brewers baserunner Prince Fielder at the plate in the first inning Thursday. | Jeffrey Phelps~AP
Updated: July 29, 2011 2:18AM
MILWAUKEE — The Cubs said the trade Thursday of outfielder Kosuke Fukudome doesn’t signal a change of direction for a team that fell to 21 games below .500 just a few hours later.
But players are bracing for a lot more changes.
‘‘Of course,’’ third baseman Aramis Ramirez said after the Milwaukee Brewers finished a three-game sweep of the Cubs with a 4-2 victory. ‘‘When you’re 20 games under .500, there’s going to be changes because something’s not right.’’
‘‘It’s a time where the organization is trying to reload and rebuild, and other teams are looking for help,’’ said right-hander Randy Wells, who pitched six competitive innings in the loss. ‘‘As a player, you just try to show up every day and do your job, and whatever happens on that given day, you react to it. I don’t think you can sit here and say, ‘Oh, no, I hope you don’t go.’ ’’
It’s the second consecutive season the Cubs have looked to move contracts at the trade deadline after three seasons in a row as buyers in July.
‘‘We’re used to that,’’ Ramirez said of the impact on the clubhouse. ‘‘When you’re winning, you’re going to add people. When you’re losing, you’re going to get rid of some people. You’re going to unload some salaries, looking for next year. I’ve been around long enough to see a lot of people come and go.’’
Who’s No. 1?
Manager Mike Quade replaced Fukudome atop the batting order Thursday with backup outfielder Tony Campana, but he said he’s not sure yet what he’ll do for a leadoff man in the longer term. Fukudome led off 68 of the Cubs’ first 104 games.
‘‘I’ll have to take a look and see where we’re at,’’ said Quade, who listed Jeff Baker (against lefties), Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney and Campana as possible platoon options.
Acquired in the Fukudome trade were two off-the-radar prospects the Cubs see as potential big-league contributors at some point.
Class AAA right-hander Carlton S mith is a middle-relief prospect who was 2-3 with a 4.50 ERA at Columbus. And Class A outfielder Abner Abreu (.244 average, 12 home runs at Kinston) drew rough comparisons from scouts to a ‘‘young Mike Cameron.’’
In addition to Fukudome, the Cleveland Indians will get his two-man entourage: interpreter Hiro Aoyama and trainer/masseur Yoshi Nakazawa.
◆ The Brewers expect second baseman Rickie Weeks to miss up to a month after suffering a severe ankle sprain while running out a grounder Wednesday.
◆ Fukudome, on what he knows about Cleveland: ‘‘I know there is a lake. Lake Erie is right next to it, and it looks like Chicago.’’