Fukudome makes first start in center

Fukudome makes first start in center

MESA, Ariz. -- Playing center field didn't help Kosuke Fukudome at the plate.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella shifted Fukudome from right to center on Thursday for the first time this spring because the team doesn't have an obvious backup center fielder. Fukudome had no problems defensively, but went 0-for-4, striking out three times.

"It didn't help his bat," Piniella said about the switch.

Fukudome has played center before, doing so in 2006 with the Chunichi Dragons. He said it was a different feel, and that he had to make some adjustments but felt comfortable late in the game. That was the whole idea.

"We're going to play him out there a couple times this spring just to let him get a little comfortable with it," Piniella said. "Right now, [Felix] Pie is probably the only guy we have here who can play center field."

Fukudome, who will not make the team's trip to Tucson on Friday to face the Colorado Rockies, was batting .205 this spring.

"He faced a couple tough left-handers today," Piniella said. "They threw the ball hard and were dropping down. He's faced some pretty good left-hand pitching in camp."

The Japanese outfielder has the right outlook.

"It's not productive to be frustrated," he said.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.