Fukudome's Bat Wreaks Havoc Early

Fukudome hitting the ball like crazy in 2009

Everyone knows Kosuke Fukudome's story. In 2008, he started the season as the toast of the town, hitting well, playing a solid right field, and being everything the Cubs bargained for when they brought him over from Japan and signed him to a hefty free agent deal.

Then things went south: Fukudome finished the year barely registering a blip. He stopped getting on base, stopped hitting, and basically stopped doing anything of offensive value to the Cubs before eventually being benched by Lou Piniella. It was a drastic fall.

So this year is a toss up. Will Fukudome still suck? WIll he rebound and play well? Will he end up somewhere in the middle -- not great, not horrible, just sort of servicable?

Thus far, it's looking good: Fukudome already has three home runs, including a long blast yesterday into a strong right field wind, and he's hit .375/.487/.781, a huge improvement from the last four months of 2008. What does that mean? Probably nothing. It's a small sample size, and if there's anything we know about Fukudome, it's that we can't trust his early season production as a harbinger of things to come. More likely than not, 2008 will be a pretty good template for 2009.

But it does mean there's hope. If Fukudome can hit like this for short stretches, it means he's at least capable of improvement in the long-term. Right now, that's about as good as it's going to get.

Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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