03/03/08 8:10 PM ET
Fukudome may shift to No. 2 in lineup
Outfielder may be more comfortable there for now, says Piniella
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
"We need for him to swing it," Piniella said. "I might drop him back down to the two-spot and see what happens."
On Monday, against the Seattle Mariners, Fukudome reached on a fielder's choice, was hit by a pitch and grounded out to second, advancing a runner.
Asked if he had talked to Fukudome about his approach, Piniella said no.
"We never talked to Ichiro [Suzuki] here about approach, and Ichiro has done quite well," Piniella said. "He knows what he needs to do. Maybe the three-hole might be asking a little much too soon. We might drop him to the two-hole, and he might be more comfortable there."
Fukudome and Ichiro were teammates on the Japanese squad in the World Baseball Classic, but the two had never played on opposing teams until Monday's game.
They chatted briefly on the field before the game, an event that was captured by several photographers.
Fukudome may not be hitting, but his defense has been solid. He nearly doubled Brad Wilkerson off at first with a throw after catching Jeff Clement's fly ball at the right-field wall.
"I thought the umpire should've called the runner out because of the degree of difficulty of the play," Piniella said. "It was a heck of a play."
After he was pulled from the game, Fukudome had to face the Japanese media. There were at least 20, plus the U.S. press.
"I'm used to it in Japan, so it doesn't bother me at all," Fukudome said of the circus-like atmosphere.
As for his offense, Fukudome said, through interpreter Ryuji Araki, that he's making progress.
"I've found a couple things I need to work on, and I'll keep working throughout Spring Training," Fukudome said.
Fukudome batted third for the Chunichi Dragons, and Piniella has inserted him there this spring in an attempt to ease the transition to the Major Leagues.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.