Kosuke Fukudome ready and waiting for his chance
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org May 17, 2012 8:04PM
White Sox outfielder Kosuke Fukudome during the White Sox-Red Sox game at US Cellular Field Sunday April 29, 2012. | TOM CRUZE~Sun-Times
Updated: July 1, 2012 11:49AM
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Kosuke Fukudome’s South Side experience has been nothing to write home to Japan about.
Not when his biggest contribution to the White Sox might be giving a lucky game belt to Adam Dunn.
His happiest moment a month and a half into the season? Probably winning the Kentucky Derby clubhouse pool. A snapshot memory of Fukudome, in a corner of the visitors’ clubhouse in Detroit fanning his smiling face with the wad of cash, is a keeper.
This weekend, Fukudome returns to Wrigley Field where he was solid performer but one who never met the lofty expectations that climbed when he hit a game-tying home run in the ninth inning against the Mets in his Cubs’ debut on Opening Day 2008.
A highly sought-after free agent, the Japanese star chose the Cubs’ four-year, $48 million deal over the White Sox’ slightly higher offer.
“It was my first game in America, and on Opening Day, just being in uniform on its own was exciting,’’ Fukudome said through a translator on Thursday. “The home run was just icing on the cake.’’
The buzz surrounding Fukudome eased. The same can be said for the crosstown series which doesn’t compare with confrontations of the past. Fukudome says it’s no big deal for him.
“It’s just going home to Chicago,’’ he said. “Regardless of who we’re playing, the Cubs or anybody else, I just want to be able to play. I keep telling myself to be ready.’’
Fukudome (6-for-36, .167) is not used to playing as little as he has, but he’s playing the role of the good soldier and fourth outfielder.
“I’m trying to stay as prepared as I can,’’ he said. “My stats aren’t up to par because I’m not playing every day, but I constantly keep myself prepared so I’m ready when I do get in the game.
“It’s difficult because I don’t know when I’m going to be in the game or called on. I have to adjust to that.’’
In the meantime, he said he’s happy to be living in Chicago, where he still owned a home. That was why signing with the Sox last offseason appealed to him.
“I used the [Derby winnings] to buy a camcorder to tape my daughter, who’s walking now,’’ he said.