Fukudome's First Was Fabulous, But He's No Kaz Matsui


Kosuke Fukudome's Cub debut
was so riveting Monday afternoon, it was almost enough to distract from Kerry Wood's ninth-inning failure and the larger disappointment of losing the opener to the Brewers.

But terrific as it was, Fukudome's plate performance didn't quite match up to what one of his countrymen, Kaz Matsui, did when he first took the field for the Mets four years ago. On that evening, Matsui slugged the first pitch in his Major League career 429 feet, well over the center field fence in Atlanta's Turner Field, and set his new team off on a 7-2 season-opening victory. In addition to the homer, Matsui ripped a pair of doubles and walked twice, so he reached base five times in five PA's.

Given the way Matsui eventually stunk up New York, it could be argued that his Met career went straight downhill following that first game.

In any case, here's a review of the most prominent Japanese hitters to cross the Pacific and how they fared in their first regular season games on American soil:

Ichiro, Mariners
MLB Debut: April 2, 2001 v. A's
Went: 2-for-5, including a strikeout and a run scored
Team result: Mariners won 5-4

Hideki Matsui, Yankees
MLB Debut: March 31, 2003 v. Toronto
Went: 1-for-4, with an RBI
Team result: Yankees won 8-4

Kaz Matsui, Mets
MLB Debut: April 6, 2004 v. Atlanta
Went: 3-for-3, including HR, 3 RBI, and a run scored, plus 2 walks
Team result: Mets won 7-2

Tad Iguchi, White Sox
MLB Debut: April 4, 2005 v. Indians
Went: 0-for-4, including a strikeout
Team result: White Sox won 1-0

Kenji Johjima, Mariners
MLB Debut: April 3, 2006 v. Angels
Went: 1-for-3, including HR and a run scored, plus a walk
Team result: Mariners lost 5-4

Akinori Iwamura, Rays
MLB Debut: April 2, 2007 v. Yankees
Went: 1-for-3 with a run scored, plus a walk
Team result: Rays lost 9-5

Kosuke Fukudome, Cubs
MLB Debut: March 31, 2008 v. Brewers
Went: 3-for-3 with a double, game-tying, ninth-inning HR, 3 RBI, and a walk
Team result: Cubs lost 4-3

Of all these players, Iwamura--who manned third base in Tampa last season, but is playing second this year--had the most productive first month in the U.S., hitting .472/.482/961 (OBP/SLG/OPS).

Ichiro went .358/.431/789 in his first month with Seattle; Hideki Matsui, who currently has a lifetime OPS of 856, put up a dismal .320/.364/684 line in his first April with the Yankees.

Comments

Here is footage of Fuku's HR from WGN -- check out the fan who caught it -- spilled his beer all over the guy in front of him

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjkNRWXyCI8

Speaking of "rick rolls"...check out this footage of a REALLY BAD canadian television show making fun of the elderly

http://youtube.com/watch?v=H3KmjHt1Kb0

Well played Crunch

Dude, that gag's tired.

hmmm, you might want to check this link again.

I got Richard Simmons...

NOT April Fools Day!

Stop wasting our time.

not funny.

Whoa boy.

Talk about a sandy vagina...

talk about a weak stab at humor.

Also, a tip of the hat to TCR reader CUBBY, who obviously speaks Japanese and noted in last night's Comments that bleacher fans were holding up Japanese language signs that translated to, "It's a fluke."

Paul Sullivan addressed this in the Tribune today...

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/cs-080331-chicago-cubs-milwaukee-brewers,1,2710174.story

...and it's sounds like the signs might have been professionally printed by the "It's Gonna Happen" guy, who either hooked up with a crappy translator or just trusted Babelfish to write the Japanese for him.

why thanks cubnut. im just your average long-suffering fan with no special knowledge of metrics or anatomy, so im glad i was able to contribute (if you can call it that). im an interpreter living in japan btw. and yes, the chunichi fans I know are pissed he left and bitter over his stunning debut. HA!
(theyre loving the “it’s a fluke” thing though. assholes.)

Chunichi fans are to Kosuke as Illinois basketball fans are to Bill Self.

Thanks, CUBBY. Hope you keep reading and updating us

By the way, is there any way to capture the spirit of It's Gonna Happen in Japanese? If not, that guy's Asian t-shirt sales are going to take a big hit.

"Chunichi fans are to Kosuke as Illinois basketball fans are to Bill Self"

LMAO! HAHA!

Nicely done, CN

lol. I'd love to find out what Fukudome thought when he saw those things. maybe someone can post a youtube video of the signs?

Are you asking to be Rickrolled? Don't taunt Carlos! He's armed!

uhh...thats definitely NOT footage of k-fuks homer. not even close. yeesh.

While I expected it to happen at some point, I didn't expect it this early.

"Already coming off two injury-plagued seasons, Martinez limped away with a strained left hamstring in the fourth inning, after just 57 pitches.

"He said he felt kind of a pop," Mets manager Willie Randolph said."

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/recap?gameId=280401128

Hope this isn't 3/44, but King Kaufman linked to a really good article on Brian Bannister:
http://www.kansascity.com/sports/royals/story/550237.html

No, you are not being Rickrolled...

Great article.

yeah, the classic underdog story.

One of these times you guys are gonna post a real link to K-Fuk's homer and E-Man's not gonna click on it. Then you're really gonna be sorry.

That's not funny.

Trans, when are you going to put up the game preview?

Anyone seen a lineup?

Lineup...

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/gameTrax?gameId=28040...

I think Cubnut has a preview coming up shortly...

According to Mike Murphy from WSCR, his "insiders" said that Wood drilled Hall for popping off about the Cubs in spring training.

Take this with a large spoon of salt.

I can believe it. I thought it might have been intentional.

It's a really stupid thing to do, obviously. We all know there's no reason to put the leadoff man on in a tie game, but Woody may have been a little too cocky that he could get out of it.

Someone in another thread called Mike North the village idiot of Chicago sports radio. He's second in line; Mike Murphy is first.

This hybrid lovechild explanation of K-Fuk is a pretty good.

http://blogs.e-rockford.com/cubs/2008/04/01/no-off...

finally found a non-profane Fukudome t-shirt that I can wear in front of my kids if anyone is interested. www.fukudomeismyhomie.com. I'm sure they'll still think I'm lame.

Ah, nothing like spam for breakfast.

at least it's on topic spam

Recent comments

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  • AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.

    Hagsag 33 min 7 sec ago view
  • Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!

    Hagsag 34 min 8 sec ago view
  • Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.

    Eric S 10 hours 15 min ago view
  • With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.

    johann 13 hours 13 min ago view
  • it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.

    crunch 13 hours 25 min ago view
  • It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.

    Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.

    The E-Man 13 hours 34 min ago view
  • That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.

    I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.

    Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...

    These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.

    No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.

    The E-Man 13 hours 39 min ago view
  • a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...

    it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...

    crunch 13 hours 58 min ago view
  • Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.

    johann 14 hours 34 min ago view
  • Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.

    johann 14 hours 51 min ago view
  • Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.

    The E-Man 14 hours 53 min ago view
  • soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.

    he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that close...one he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.

    crunch 15 hours 11 min ago view
  • j.urias optioned back to AAA...guess we wont be seeing him in the LAD series.

    crunch 15 hours 18 min ago view
  • so is him actually getting 2 hits in a game (2 doubles!)...first time he's even been on base 2 times in a game since 9 games ago on his 3/4, 1bb day.

    im ready for him to at least look like a 2-slot hitter since he's gonna be slotted there no matter what he does.

    crunch 16 hours 14 min ago view
  • That Heyward move to avoid Bryant's ball hit at him was a thing of beauty too.

    johann 16 hours 32 min ago view
  • 9 pitches in and this game already rules.

    HR, double...bryant's turn (who came out to a Kris Kross song for some horrible, horrible reason).

    ...2 run inning...zoobrest hitting streak at 14.

    crunch 16 hours 36 min ago view