[to top of second column]
Then there was Kosuke Fukudome.
Signed to a $48 million, four-year deal in the offseason, he was elected an All-Star starter by the fans after a strong start, but the good will wore off during a dramatic second-half tailspin that dropped his average to .257. Things only got worse in the postseason, when he went 1-for-10.
Fans made it clear they were out of patience, showering him with loud boos as he struck out three times and went 0-for-4 in Game 2, and Piniella didn't exactly rush to his defense afterward. Instead, he the manager said "there's no sense sending him out there anymore."
But the Cubs might not have much choice next season.
There are other issues to address, such as Dempster's and closer Kerry Wood's expiring contracts and Soriano's leadoff spot in the order. Piniella was adamant about keeping him at the top, even though the free-swinging Soriano has had leg injuries the past two seasons and is no longer the stolen-base threat he once was.
Piniella was certain about one thing.
"I want to play more than the part of the good little congratulator, I want to do more than congratulating the other team in the first round of the playoffs," he said.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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