- Scott Powers, ESPN Staff Writer
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But after spending a majority of his first four major league seasons with the Cubs, Fukudome now wears black and finds himself on the White Sox’s side of the yearly crosstown rivalry. While there are the obviously differences from a year ago, Fukudome didn’t feel as if his return to Wrigley Field was anything unique.
“It’s just coming back to another ballpark, nothing different,” Fukudome said through translator D.J. Masumoto. “I had some good memories in here, of course, because I used to play here, but now I’m playing for the Sox. I would like to make some memories with the Sox.”
So far, Fukudome hasn’t made many of those on the South Side. After signing a contract with the White Sox in the offseason, he’s played in mostly a pinch-hit role and has struggled at the plate this season.
Entering Sunday’s game with the Cubs, Fukudome had six hits in 36 at-bats and had a .167 average for the season. His start in right field on Sunday marked his first start since May 7.
Fukudome had played a larger role with his previous teams. He had 432 hits in 1,651 at-bats and hit .262 with the Cubs in 3 ½ seasons, and he hit .249 in 59 games with the Cleveland Indians after being traded from the Cubs in July of last season. Fukudome originally signed with the Cubs in 2007 after playing nine seasons in Japan.
Fukudome has tried to remain positive despite the lacking of playing time this season.
“In the end, it’s not my decision when I get to go into the game and when I go and play,” Fukudome said. “All I can do at this point is just be prepared for when I do get into the game, that way I can do the job right.
“The season is still early. I haven’t given (my production) too much thought.”
Fukudome’s return to Chicago from Cleveland made the transition easy for him and his family, but he also said the choice wasn’t completely his.
“It wasn’t my decision to come to the White Sox,” Fukudome said. “Everything is done through my agent.”
Among Fukudome’s former teammates with the Cubs was Kerry Wood, who retired on Friday. Fukudome thought of Wood as a good player and teammate.
“Playing with him, he’s a great ball player, and he’s a great person off the field as well,” Fukudome said. “I’m really glad to be able to know someone like that. It’s kind of sad I’m the same age as Kerry. For him to retire at his age is sad, but it’s his choice. It’s his life. It’s the situation he made. I’m just glad to be able to know him in my baseball career, and hopefully it’ll work out down the road I can meet him again.”
Fukudome didn’t envision himself retiring anytime soon.
“I’m not thinking about that right now,” Fukudome said. “I’m just focusing on the season.”