Hitters slowly finding their way
Lee working out the kinks; Fukudome continues to struggle
MESA, Ariz. -- Kosuke Fukudome is a little frustrated. Derrek Lee is feeling better.
Slowly, but surely, the Cubs hitters are starting to find their groove.
"I'd like to see them start swinging the bat," Lou Piniella said Friday about the middle of the Cubs' lineup, such as Lee, Fukudome and Aramis Ramirez. "Am I concerned? No. Do I know they're going to hit? Yes. The quicker they get going, obviously, the better.
"I read [Seattle manager John] McClaren's comments about Ichiro [Suzuki], and he's right, he knows he's going to hit," Piniella said of the Seattle outfielder who notched his first spring hit Thursday. "I've said many times that in Spring Training, as a player you lose a little urgency and you say you've got tomorrow, and before you know it, it's the 24th, 25th and you're still not swinging the bats the way you want to. The sooner the better."
Fukudome went 0-for-4 on Friday in the Angels' 6-5 win over the Cubs, and he is batting .226 this spring. He told the Japanese media that he is a little frustrated by his performance.
"In his defense, we've been moving him in the lineup around a little bit," Piniella said. "We're trying to find out what's good for us, too. Invariably, we'll do what's best for the player and us. We have to see him in different spots in the lineup.
"I think he wants to do well, and he's probably trying to overdo a little bit, maybe putting a little pressure on himself to do too many things early," Piniella said. "Just relax and play, and he'll be fine."
Fukudome will make the trip to Tucson, Ariz., on Saturday, while Lee, Ramirez and Soriano will stay back in Mesa to get in some extra hitting. Lee went 2-for-4 on Friday and said he felt he was getting a little closer. Told that Piniella was a little alarmed about the hitters, Lee smiled.
"I don't know about alarms," Lee said. "It's hard to explain -- we're up there trying to get hits, but at the same time, for me it's more important to feel comfortable, to feel like you know what you need to do when the season starts. You want results, but results aren't everything in Spring Training."
He'll get a good workout on Saturday.
"Those days can be as important as playing," Lee said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.