12/09/07 10:01 AM ET
Report: Fukudome opts to play in Majors
Cubs, White Sox and Padres among outfielder's suitors
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Japan's Nikkansports reported Sunday that the outfielder has decided not to play for the Yomiuri Giants and will sign with a Major League team instead. The Giants, the elite team in Japan, were believed to be the only team Fukudome would have played for if he had decided to stay.
Fukudome, 30, has a career .305 batting average over nine seasons with the Chunichi Dragons, who won their first Japan championship in 53 years on Nov. 2.
Joe Urbon, who represents Fukudome, said he told his client to take the weekend to consider whether he wanted to stay in Japan or play in the U.S.
"He's not going to decide until Tuesday, or Monday our time," Urbon said Friday. "If he had made that decision, you would have seen it out of Japan by now."
Urbon said Fukudome would not announce whether he is leaving Japan without informing the Yomiuri Giants first, out of respect to that team.
Several teams are bidding for Fukudome, and Urbon said he sent details to the outfielder on Thursday. The Cubs are one of the teams, as are the crosstown White Sox. Other teams believed to be courting Fukudome include the Padres and the Giants.
"He's got enough information to decide which [offer] he plans on taking early next week, the Tokyo [Yomiuri] offer or a Major League club," Urbon said.
The Cubs are looking for a left-handed-hitting outfielder to take over right field and balance their right-handed lineup. Fukudome, who averaged 29 homers from 2003-06, was limited last season because of bone chips in his right elbow.
Cubs manager Lou Piniella said scouts have described Fukudome as a cross between Hideki Matsui and Ichiro Suzuki. General manager Jim Hendry said he last talked to Urbon on Wednesday, and that the agent did not give him a definite day as to when Fukudome would make his decision but only said "soon."
If Fukudome decides to come to the U.S., Urbon was not sure whether the outfielder would need to tour the Major League stadiums, but said the teams involved know that is a possibility.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. Corey Brock contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.