Need for runs may shake up lineup
Fontenot may start Game 3; slumping Fukudome shines in field
CHICAGO -- The Cubs may make some lineup changes when they head west for the National League Division Series.
Lou Piniella said Thursday he considered inserting Mike Fontenot in the lineup for Game 2 but didn't want to put Mark DeRosa in the outfield yet. DeRosa missed the last four regular-season games because of a strained left calf and has started at second base in Games 1 and 2 of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"We need offense," Piniella said before Game 2. "[Fontenot] is swinging the bat well. We get to [Los Angeles], the weather is a little warmer, a few more days for DeRosa, that's certainly a viable option [to start Fontenot]. Right now, he's my best bat coming off the bench, too."
Fontenot batted .366 in September, which is why Piniella wants the second baseman in the mix. DeRosa would switch to right field, which means Kosuke Fukudome would be on the bench.
"It's a mystery," Piniella said of the Japanese outfielder, who began the year batting .327 in the first month of games and has struggled to hit .217 since the All-Star break.
"I've had as much patience with him as anybody I've ever managed," Piniella said. "We've given him a little rest, we've played him, we've moved him around the lineup with the thought that this will get him going, this will get him going, this will get him going.
"It's been a struggle for this young man. I feel for him. He's a good young man and plays hard and he wants to do well."
Watching Fukudome in right field shows how valuable he is to the team. He was able to run down Casey Blake's ball in foul territory near the visitor's bullpen in the third inning Wednesday and avoid both falling and crashing into the wall.
"In right field, he's played extremely well," Piniella said. "Unfortunately, the right fielder has to swing the bat a little bit."
Fontenot may get the call, though, if Fukudome doesn't deliver in Game 2.
"I'd like to see Fukudome have a couple good games in the postseason. Wouldn't that be nice?" Piniella said. "It'd be a big confidence booster for him for next year."
Fukudome did have good numbers in Japan against Saturday's Game 3 starter, Hiroki Kuroda.
"I might hit him fourth," Piniella said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.