Notes: Trio sets uncertainties aside
Fukudome impresses in field, at plate; candidates throwing well
MESA, Ariz. -- Matt Murton and Sean Gallagher weren't sure they would be at Cubs camp when Spring Training began. Mark DeRosa didn't know if he'd have a full-time position.
The three were mentioned often in trade rumors this offseason. Murton and Gallagher were reportedly being dealt to other teams, while DeRosa was in jeopardy of losing his job as the Cubs' full-time second baseman if the team acquired Baltimore's Brian Roberts.
"I'm a part of this team, and love being a part of it," DeRosa said Saturday. "I'm not even concerned about it. If it happens, then you deal with it. It's not something you even think about."
Gallagher heard the talk, and tried to shrug it off. He did talk to his agent a few times this offseason.
"If it happens, it happens," Gallagher said. "I'm a Chicago Cub, and I'm proud to be here. I'm a Cub until my phone rings. I wasn't worried about it. I figured the best thing was to do my offseason routine and get back here and be prepared to go here."
Murton has been traded once before. He was dealt in July 2004 to the Cubs as part of a six-player deal that included Nomar Garciaparra. The young outfielder can count how many outfielders the Cubs have in camp.
"Bottom line is, you've got two quality corner outfielders," Murton said. "Alfonso Soriano is one of the best outfielders in the game, and [Kosuke] Fukudome is a big-time threat in Japanese baseball. The one thing they've shown is that those guys can hit. There's always an adjustment, but the game's the game. It becomes a numbers thing."
When asked what Murton's role is, Cubs manager Lou Piniella said the redhead now is a fourth outfielder.
"I don't know what else to say," Piniella said. "We'll see how it works out this spring. We can use him in right to rest Fukudome, and we can use him in left to rest Soriano. That's it right now."
Being a part-time player is tough.
"I'm 26 years old, I came into baseball here at the age of 23," Murton said. "I've done pretty well, but I feel like I've just begun to scratch the surface. I think there's a lot more out there for me to accomplish. That being said, in order to accomplish those things, I have to be on the field.
"At 26, if I'm on the bench for another two or three years, by the time I'm 28, 29, it's safe to say I'm a bench player. The next two years are big for me to establish myself as an everyday player. In the role I'm in, I'm going to be a bench player here in Chicago."
He is more acclimated to that role after last season, when he shared right field with nine other players, including the versatile DeRosa. Neither Murton nor DeRosa nor Gallagher has talked to Cubs general manager Jim Hendry to get an update.
"It's weird," DeRosa said. "It's not their job to come pat me on the back and make me feel good about which way they want to go, and it's not my job to go to them because I don't want to give them any impression that I'm concerned about it. Baseball is a business, and if they feel [Roberts] makes us a better team, then Jim's going to do it at the end of the day."
No. 1: Fukudome worked out with the other early bird position players Saturday. Hitting coach Gerald Perry watched the Japanese outfielder and talked to him a little after his third turn in the cage.
"I was talking to [coach Mike] Quade, and he says [Fukudome] has really got good footwork in the outfield and going to get the ball, and it all starts with footwork," Piniella said. "The hitting part, Gerald was all smiles. When the hitting coach is smiling, I know he's happy."
Fukudome does not know much English, and center fielder Felix Pie cannot speak Japanese, so how will they communicate in the outfield?
"I think he knows 'I got it,'" Pie said.
Arms race: Piniella was pleased with the way Ryan Dempster, Jason Marquis, Jon Lieber and Sean Marshall threw on Saturday. The four are vying for the two openings in the rotation. Could the Cubs have too many pitchers?
"Things have a way of working out pitching-wise every spring," Piniella said. "You never have enough."
That may seem cliche, but it's true.
"We do have Spring Training for a reason, and not just so the manager can [chat] with the writers," Piniella said. "There's a competition aspect to it, too."
Extra bases: DeRosa was "shocked" at the fan support during the Cubs Convention in January. He was obviously a favorite and received huge ovations. "I think I'm a guy who can sit down and have a drink with them and just be a normal guy," he said. ... Mike Fontenot is vying for a spot on the Cubs' final 25-man roster, and knows he needs to show that last June, when he hit .397, wasn't a fluke. "You try to stay as consistent as you can," Fontenot said. "I kind of hit a little lull for a little bit. I didn't play as much at the end of the year either. I'm still trying to learn the whole off-the-bench thing. You get used to it, you've got good guys to learn from -- Daryle Ward is one of the best pinch-hitters in the game. You try to mimic him and do things he's done off the bench. I think I can come off the bench and help the team." ... During Fukudome's first session in the batting cage on Friday, bullpen catcher Edgar Tovar threw him 45 consecutive pitches. Hitters normally don't swing at that many the first time. ... Among the position players to arrive early on Saturday were DeRosa, Murton, Fontenot, Bobby Scales and Josh Kroeger.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.