Where does Fukudome fit best?

Cubs manager Lou Piniella is considering and reconsidering where to bat Japanese free agent Kosuke Fukudome, even after saying last week he thought the lefty hitter would bat fifth to break up an almost all right-handed lineup. The most intriguing possibility is putting Fukudome in the No. 3 spot — where he spent most of his time batting in Japan — and moving Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez to the 4-5 spots.

Lee, who had a very informal discussion with hitting coach Gerald Perry about the possibility, said he has no problem moving down in the order. And Fukudome said he hasn’t heard anything about it, but that it won’t make any difference to him — or his hitting approach — in either spot.

This is probably just the beginning of what could be a very fluid issue for at least the next couple of weeks, with games not scheduled to start until a week from now and the possibility still looming that the Cubs might make a trade for a hitter who could fit into the top half of the order.

“I think Lou probably has 100 lineups in his head, just like last year,” Lee said this morning.

Fukudome had a .397 career on-base percentage in Japan. If the roster stays as is, he would be one of only two left-handed hitters in the order (along with the center fielder who would bat eighth). So where should he bat? And how does the uncertainty of leadoff man Alfonso Soriano’s recovering quadriceps impact the answer to that question? The Cubs have five weeks to come up with the right answer.

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