Cubs hammer Giants in Spring Training opener

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Ryan Theriot was being interviewed in the visitors clubhouse Thursday at Scottsdale Stadium when a banana was thrust into his face.

After turning around in midsentence to find out what was going on, Theriot soon discovered new teammate Kosuke Fukudome was pretending to be a reporter, using a banana as a fake microphone.

At long last, the games had begun, both on and off the field.

The Cubs kicked off their Cactus League schedule with a 12-6 romp over San Francisco as Theriot went 3-for-3 in the leadoff spot, Mike Fontenot and Felix Pie homered and Ryan Dempster pitched two innings in his first start in nearly five years.

But the big news was Fukudome's introduction to the majors, which featured a little bit of everything for the Japanese star.

Fukudome was hit in the back of his right shoulder by Giants starter Noah Lowry on the first pitch he saw in a Cubs uniform. He walked in the second and chopped a single over the third-base bag to score Theriot in a five-run third.

It may have looked like vintage Ichiro Suzuki, but Cubs fans probably should start getting accustomed to seeing the Kosuke Chop for the next four years.

"I love that chopper, man," Theriot said. "That's classic. I've been waiting for it and expecting it. It's classic. I'd like to think if I would've hit left-handed, I'd hit like that. It was cool to watch him go out there and play."

Fukudome proved he has enough speed to beat out infield hits to the left side as well as the ability to go to the opposite field when it suits him.

"I saw a lot of room on that side," Fukudome said through an interpreter, referring to the hole between third baseman Scott McClain and the bag. "I was happy to see it go where I wanted it to go."

Fukudome's big adventure began on an interesting note when he was plunked in the first, but he shrugged it off by saying, "That's the way it goes."

In the dugout between innings, Dempster asked Fukudome if he wanted him to hit someone on the Giants in retaliation in the bottom of the first. Dempster was probably kidding, but Fukudome politely told him no thanks.

Lowry's wildness was apparent, and it was certainly an unintentional plunking. After he came out of the game, Fukudome walked up to Dempster in the clubhouse and gave him a bear hug, perhaps signaling the start of the new, touchy-feely era of Cubs baseball.

Manager Lou Piniella lauded Dempster's performance, saying he "looks like a starter."

"It was a real nice two innings for him," he said. "He gave up a home run, but so what?"

Throwing mostly fastballs, Dempster allowed one run in two innings, giving up a two-out homer to Randy Winn in the first before slipping called third strikes past the first two hitters in the second.

"I think I'm smarter than the last time I started, hopefully," he said. "Now I just have to apply that."

October is still seven months away, but the quiet confidence Piniella has instilled in his club is already apparent.

"It's good to get out there and put the uniform on, have some people out there in the stands, hear your name over the loudspeakers," Theriot said. "It kind of gets the juices flowing again." ... 5088.story

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