On Tuesday, he’ll get a reminder of his old home.
Fukudome was one of Japan’s best players during his time with the Chunichi Dragons, posting a .305 career average and winning Central League MVP honors in 2006.
One pitcher he faced during his time with the Dragons was Kuroda (2-3, 3.48 ERA), who won 103 career games over 10 years with Hiroshima Toyo Carp. Kuroda and Fukudome were also teammates in the 2004 Summer Olympics, where they helped lead Japan to the bronze medal.
“I haven’t seen how he pitches over here, but he was one of the better pitchers in Japan,” Fukudome told the Cubs’ official Web site. “This will be the first time I will face a Japanese pitcher in the big leagues, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Fukudome has struggled on the road, hitting just .207 with five RBIs, but at Wrigley Field - where on Tuesday he’ll be honored with a bobblehead doll giveaway - he’s been fantastic. He’s hitting a team-high .376 on Chicago’s north side with two homers and 13 RBIs.
Fukudome went 0-for-4 at Wrigley on Monday, but homers by both Lee and Ramirez lifted the Cubs to a 3-1 win over the Dodgers (26-24), moving them to 20-8 at home.
“You should feel good about playing at home, and you should feel good about your chances when you’re at home,” manager Lou Piniella said.
While Fukudome has been the Japanese rookie who has garnered the most media attention, Kuroda, now 10 starts into his first year in the major leagues, has looked impressive in his last three outings.
His latest start was his best, when he lasted a season-high eight innings against Cincinnati on Wednesday while giving up two runs on five hits in the Dodgers’ 5-2 win.
“He was masterful tonight,” manager Joe Torre told the team’s official Web site. “He had a great pitch count (99) and he got out of trouble and held them right there and he was strongest in the eighth inning.”
Fukudome, however, fared well against Kuroda in their meetings in Japan, where he hit .330 with four homers against the right-hander.
Los Angeles has had trouble scoring runs lately - it’s scored just six total and has lost three of its past four games. Monday’s one-run effort was the 10th time this season the Dodgers had scored a run or fewer.
“It was frustrating, no question,” Torre said. “We have nobody to blame but ourselves.”
Torre’s team may find offense easier to come by against rookie Sean Gallagher (1-1, 5.68). Gallagher has made three starts since replacing Jon Lieber in the Cubs’ rotation, and he hasn’t made it through five innings in two of them.
He allowed five runs on eight hits in 4 2-3 innings on Wednesday in a 5-3 loss at Houston. Piniella, though, has come away impressed with the 22-year-old.
“Gallagher’s got a nice arm,” Piniella said. “(But on Wednesday), he got ahead of the hitters consistently and couldn’t put them away.”