Fuld's audition for center off-key
Mental lapses, inexperience hound young outfielder
MESA, Ariz. -- Center fielder Felix Pie is not expected back in the Cubs' lineup until the middle of next week, which means Sam Fuld will get more playing time, and probably a few more tumbles.
Pie underwent outpatient surgery for testicular torsion on Monday, and tried to take batting practice on Friday for the first time since the procedure. Asked if the center fielder's position was in jeopardy because he was sidelined, Cubs manager Lou Piniella said no.
"As long as he's fine -- and there's no reason to assume he won't be -- with what we have here in camp, he'll be our center fielder," Piniella said.
The Cubs were believed to be talking to other teams about acquiring another center fielder. Fuld is hoping he can convince them he can do the job. He has batted .200 in 14 Cactus League games and did not start Friday against the Angels. Pie was hitting .321 in nine games before being sidelined.
Fuld has shown his inexperience at times, and Piniella has talked to the young outfielder. In a game Wednesday against Texas, the tying run was at first and there were two outs. Fuld swung at the first pitch. Piniella's message was that he should give the runner a chance to steal a base, because then Fuld might have a chance to drive him in.
On Thursday against the Padres, Fuld overthrew the cutoff man twice.
"Those are young mistakes, inexperience mistakes," Piniella said. "Unfortunately, during the season, you can't do those sort of things because you'll get beat."
Maybe he's trying to show off his arm?
"I guess if I had a good arm, I'd try to show it, too," Piniella said. "Let's zone it down a little bit."
On one of the throws, Fuld threw so hard, he did a somersault in center and found himself on his stomach.
"It's not like I try to do it, I just do it," he said of his acrobatics. "There's no way I could do it on my own.
"I'm not trying to impress anybody, just trying to make a good throw. I guess you have so much momentum going through the ball, and you don't slow down. There's only one place for that energy to go, and you flip."
When he does something like that, Fuld finds himself a little discombobulated, and he needs a couple seconds to get oriented.
"It's like a quarterback who throws the ball and gets crunched by the linebacker and has to peek from the ground to see what happens," he said. "I know I have to charge the ball hard and get rid of it as quickly as possible to be effective."
Just before talking Friday, Fuld was checking his blood sugar levels. He is diabetic, and he tests himself about a half dozen times a day.
"If it's too low, I'll get some sort of sugar in me, Gatorade or some bar," he said. "If it's too high -- depending on how high it is -- I'll actually take an injection. Sometimes if you wait it out, it'll lower itself. I try to keep it at a happy medium."
Cubs broadcaster Ron Santo, who also has diabetes, didn't have such a device. He had to go by feel. Fuld has talked to Santo about dealing with diabetes.
"It's never easy," Fuld said, "but it's a lot easier."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.