Results tagged ‘ Kyosuke Sasaki ’

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

3/14 Fukudome's hitting coach returns

Kosuke Fukudome’s Japanese hitting coach is back. Kyosuke Sasaki joined the Cubs in Mesa on Sunday and will stay with the team for a week. Sasaki worked with Fukudome this offseason in Nagoya for five days, hitting for three hours a day. The key this season, Sasaki said, is to have Fukudome be a little lower in his stance. He agreed with Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, who wants to the outfielder to close his stance a little. Sasaki promised last year that Fukudome would hit .300. He didn’t. What about this season? “He will — I promise,” Sasaki said.

— Carrie Muskat 

7/26 Rising star

Japanese hitting coach Kyosuke Sasaki headed home on Sunday, but his visit seemed to pay off. Sasaki was with the Cubs for one week to work with his star pupil, Kosuke Fukudome, and the outfielder now has an eight-game hitting streak. Fukudome entered Sunday’s game batting .414 during the streak.

“He gave Fukudome a little bit of a front knee turn,” Lou Piniella said. “It keeps him in [the batter’s box] much better. He stays on top of the ball better. He hits the ball to left field, which I think is very important for him and keeps him from spinning.”

The spinning usually resulted in strikeouts. Sasaki, who was Fukudome’s hitting coach with the Chunichi Dragons, will be back in September.

“We’re very thankful and appreciative as a staff and organization,” Piniella said of Sasaki’s visit. “[Fukudome] has gotten his average up there around the .270 mark and hopefully it keeps rising.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/25 Dog show

Big Z has a new little friend. Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano brought his new dog, a 10-week-old Shar Pei named Little Z, into the clubhouse prior to Saturday’s game. The puppy didn’t seem to respond to Zambrano’s calls or whistles, whether in Spanish or English, but did like treats from the kitchen. The dog also isn’t paper trained, and made a mess on the clubhouse carpet, right in front of a locker occupied by Japanese hitting coach Kyosuke Sasaki. However, Sasaki said it was good luck. Some of the young Cubs players agreed. Former Iowa manager Pat Listach had a dog named Henry who occasionally made a deposit next to a player’s locker. Coincidentally, that player often was called up to the big leagues — which is exactly what happened to Carlos Marmol. However, don’t expect more dogs in the clubhouse.

— Carrie Muskat

7/24 Quick hits

Lou Piniella asked one of the Japanese writers to help as interpreter so he could talk hitting with Kyosuke Sasaki on Friday. Sasaki has been with the Cubs since Monday to work with his star pupil, Kosuke Fukudome, and will go back to Japan on Sunday. One thing PIniella noticed during batting practice and games is that Fukudome is using his legs better in his swing. Piniella thanked Sasaki — and then suggested he should stick around to work with a couple other players as well.

* Geovany Soto’s rehab is progressing in Mesa, Ariz., but PIniella wasn’t sure if the catcher had started swinging a bat. Soto is sidelined with a left oblique strain. “We talked about bringing up another catcher here,” Piniella said. “Where it hurts us is the fact that [Jake] Fox has done well pinch-hitting and it’s hard to utilize him in that role. When I used him the other day, I told [pitcher Randy] Wells he’s my backup catcher.

“We know we’re in a precarious situation,” Piniella said. “We’re trying to ride this thing out. We don’t want to send out the 12th pitcher and at the same time our bench, we’re comfortable with the way it’s set up now. If we need somebody, we’ll have them here the following day.”

Wells was pitching Friday.

“How about if Wells pitches the first seven and catches the last two? That would give ESPN and the rest of the networks something to talk about,” Piniella said.

* The trading deadline is approaching. In Washington, Piniella hinted he was still looking for a left-handed hitter.

“Our GM [Jim Hendry] does as good a job as any GM in baseball in addressing a team’s needs,” Piniella said. “I’m fully comfortable that if there’s anything out there that’s available and can help us, Jim will find him and that’s all he can do.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/22 It's just lunch

Cubs hitting coach Von Joshua said he learned a lot from his lunch with Kosuke Fukudome’s hitting coach, Kyosuke Sasaki. The two talked hitting on Tuesday, and Sasaki planned on giving Joshua and the Cubs a check list of things to watch for regarding Fukudome’s swing. Japanese pitchers throw more offspeed pitches than those in the U.S. Major Leagues, and that’s been an adjustment. Sasaki, who has been in uniform, wearing No. 53, since joining the team Monday in Philly, planned on accompanying the Cubs to Chicago.

— Carrie Muskat

7/21 Lunch date

Cubs hitting coach Von Joshua and Kyosuke Sasaki had lunch on Tuesday, and the topic was Kosuke Fukudome. Sasaki was Fukudome’s hitting coach in Japan, and he’s visiting his star pupil this week. What Joshua and Lou Piniella are looking for are any tips to help the Japanese outfielder avoid falling into a second half slump like he did last year.

Piniella wants Fukudome to work on using the whole field, and notes that he’s better when he can go to left center or right center rather than trying to pull the ball.

“Both [this year and last] he got off to real good starts, and last year, he got himself into a fall and was never able to put the brakes on it,” Piniella said. “This year, he’s starting to stabilize. I think he’s got a good chance between now and the end of the year to raise his batting average. The important thing is he’s feeling more confident and he’s feeling better about himself and he has another year of experience here, too, which helps.”

— Carrie Muskat



The Cubs will add another coach on Monday in Philadelphia. Kyosuke Sasaki, who was Kosuke Fukudome’s hitting coach in Japan and who worked with the Cubs outfielder this offseason, will join the team there. Sasaki was in Chicago earlier this year, and has been getting updates on Fukudome as the season has progressed. He is still consulting teams in Japan.

Lou Piniella said Saturday night that Sasaki would be in uniform for the three-game series vs. the Phillies, barring jet lag. Sasaki was to fly from Tokyo to New York and then Philly.

“We’re going to put him in uniform and let him observe and if need be, he can work with Fukudome all he wants,” Piniella said. “He’s got our blessing.”

Sasaki will then fly to Chicago with the Cubs after Wednesday’s game. Fukudome, who was starting in center and leading off Sunday, has hit safely in eight of his last 14 games and batting .303 in nine games in the leadoff spot.

— Carrie Muskat