Results tagged ‘ Hiro Aoyama ’

3/11 Fukudome family OK after quake

Kosuke Fukudome said he’s been in touch with his brother in Japan following the earthquake that struck on Friday and all is well. Fukudome hasn’t been able to communicate directly with his parents, but his brother told him they are OK, too. They do not live close to where the earthquake hit. Fukudome’s wife and son are already in Chicago. Interpreter Hiro Aoyama was able to make contact with his family as well, and everyone is fine following the 8.6 quake, which hit the east coast of Honshu.

— Carrie Muskat

11/19 Hoffpauir eager to play in Japan

Micah Hoffpauir was shopping in a Dallas mall on Friday and added one more item to his holiday shopping list: some Japanese language tapes to help him adjust to his new team, the Nippon Ham Fighters. Hoffpauir, who has played his entire professional career with the Cubs, cleared unconditional release waivers on Friday and the rights to his contract were sold to the Japanese team. Those language tapes will help.

The Cubs are without a first baseman after trading Derrek Lee in August and letting free agent Xavier Nady go but Hoffpauir didn’t get a sense that he was their guy.

“I didn’t know what the Cubs were going to do,” Hoffpauir said. “Obviously, I thought they’d sign somebody and I’d be stuck in the same situation I was in the past. That’s not what we wanted. We wanted some sort of stability and that’s one of the main reasons we decided to do it.”

By “we,” Hoffpauir is including his wife Tiffany and soon to be 2-year-old daughter Addyson, who both had a vote. Hoffpauir plans on getting to Tokyo by Jan. 26 to get over jet lag before Spring Training begins Feb. 1.

“We’re definitely looking forward to the opportunity, no doubt,” Hoffpauir said. “It’ll be a neat experience.”

— Carrie Muskat

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

4/7 What's a Tar Heel?

For the second straight season, Kosuke Fukudome won the Cubs players’ NCAA pool. He drew Butler’s name out of a hat. Yes, Butler did lose to Duke in the championship game Monday night but Fukudome won because the spread was seven points. Kevin Millar, a non-roster invitee this spring, had Duke.

Fukudome drew North Carolina last year but didn’t know exactly what that meant.

“He said, ‘Who is North Carolina?'” Fukudome’s interpreter Hiro Aoyama said.

Fukudome couldn’t pronounce Butler’s name when he picked the Indianapolis school’s name this spring. What about winning the pool two years in a row?

“Pure luck,” Aoyama said.

— Carrie Muskat