10/03/08 1:59 AM ET
Fukudome likely to sit for rest of NLDS
Piniella says he'll look elsewhere to replace slumping outfielder
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
"From now on, I don't want to hear about Fukudome anymore as far as whether he's going to play or not," Piniella said when a reporter asked him about Fukudome's slump. "I'm going to play [Mike] Fontenot or Reed Johnson or somebody else, and that's the end of that story. The kid is struggling, and there's no sense sending him out there anymore."
Fukudome had a strong first half in his first season in the United States. As late as June 27, he was hitting .301 with a .407 on-base percentage. In the second half, though, his numbers plummeted and his playing time waned.
Though he homered in the final game of the regular season, Fukudome ended the year on a 16-for-83 (.193) slide. In the postseason, he's 0-for-8 with four strikeouts, including three K's in an 0-for-4 showing in Thursday's 10-3 loss to the Dodgers. Fukudome batted second in the series opener and eighth in Game 2.
Thus, for Game 3, it's likely Fukudome will sit. Piniella has two primary options in such a scenario. He could move Mark DeRosa to right field and start Fontenot at second base, or he could start Johnson in right.
One roadblock to sitting Fukudome has been DeRosa's recovery from a left calf strain. Piniella was reluctant to ask the rehabbing DeRosa to cover ground in the outfield. However, DeRosa is coming along well, opening that option up again.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.