4/29 Speaking same language

Kosuke Fukudome’s hitting coach, Kyosuke Sasaki, predicted this spring that the Cubs outfielder will finish this season batting above .300. On Thursday, Sasaki said he’s encouraged by his star pupil.

What Sasaki started working on this offseason — and what Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo has continued — is to have Fukudome lower his body in his stance and be more compact.

“At the end of last year, just watching the video, I was thinking that he probably should lower himself down a little bit,” Sasaki said Thursday through Fukudome’s interpreter Hiro Aoyama. “Then, at the end of the season, he came to Osaka where I live. I started to talk about it and he was actually thinking the exact same thing. We were in agreement. Then I started working with him about it.”

“What I am thinking is the same thing [Jaramillo] is thinking,” Sasaki said. “I’m thinking Kosuke is comfortable around him.”

Entering Thursday’s game, Fukudome was batting .333. One year ago, the outfielder got off to a good start and hit .338 in April but finished at .259. In two seasons in the U.S. Major Leagues, Fukudome has compiled a .258 batting average. In nine years in Japan, he hit .305, winning a batting title in 2006 when he hit .351.

Sasaki predicts this will be a good year.

“Just looking at him, he’s definitely getting better,” Sasaki said. “As a batter, I think everybody has to be ready for the quick approach and he is ready for it so I think it’s definitely a better situation for him.”

– Carrie Muskat

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