Pesky Fuld on a Tear

DES MOINES – Outfielder Sam Fuld has been on a tear at Class AAA Iowa. The 27-year-old Fuld, drafted twice by the Cubs out of Stanford University, including the 10th round in 2004, has especially been swinging the bat well in the month of June. In 22 games this month alone, the Cubs' starting centerfielder is batting .405 with five doubles, 18 runs scored and 11 stolen bases atop the order.

Fuld has been equally as busy off the field, too. The Cubs had a day off on Monday, June 22, and Fuld married his fiance, Sarah, in Des Moines.

"It was great," Fuld said of the ceremony. "I think [being up in front of] family and friends was more stressful [than batting in front of thousands of fans]. Even though it was a small crowd, I had some nerves going."

In Thursday's 5-4 Iowa win over New Orleans at Principal Park, Fuld collected a season-high four hits, including a double. He also stole two bases.

Fuld's overall average is now .287 with 16 doubles, 27 RBIs and 20 stolen bases, and that makes his 2009 campaign much stronger than that of last season.

"I think I've just tried to simplify things," Fuld said. "I was probably getting too worried about my swing and I just tried to really break it down to the basics and shorten my swing up and worry about getting the barrel on the ball. It's worked for me."

"I've worked with (Cubs manager) Bobby (Dickerson) and (former Iowa hitting coach) Von (Joshua) and I've had some great help along the way. I just try and keep my ears open and take in what everybody says."

A season ago, Fuld batted a shy .222 in 20 games with Iowa before he was sent to Double-A Tennessee in mid-May. The 2008 season was a bit of a setback for Fuld as he had spent the end of ‘07 in Chicago after batting .290 in 90 games at Tennessee and .269 in a handful of games at Iowa.

This past off-season, Fuld played winter ball in Venezuela and that helped prepare him for 2009, he said.

"I played the whole off-season in Venezuela, and I think that helped me prepare," Fuld said. "You play in a lot of pressure-packed situations and anytime you can play you always get better. There is good competition in Venezuela. I feel like I'm a better player as a result of playing down there."

The numbers would tend to back him up.

Fuld currently leads his team in average this month and for the year he has the lead in stolen bases, having also set a new career-high with eight triples (second in the Pacific Coast League behind Reno's Trent Oeltjen in that category).

Fuld has a .478 on-base percentage in June and a .358 clip overall. For the season, he has 31 walks to 21 strikeouts through 275-plus at-bats.

"I'm a pesky guy at the top of the order," Fuld says. "I just try and get on base. I know my job is to get on base and let the guys in the middle of the order drive me in."

Dickerson said that Fuld's hot hitting has been a consistent bright spot for the club and that he's helped carry the team in recent weeks.

"He is outstanding," Dickerson said. "He's found the barrel of his bat now. He was looking for it for a long time. He's centering balls up and when you center balls up, you have good hits."

And with Fuld having a big league resume, another call-up is not out of the realm of possibility.

"Sam is a gamer," Cubs Vice President of Player Personnel and Farm Director Oneri Fleita said. "He just needs to keep grinding away day to day."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Fuld had a six-game hit streak end in Friday's 7-3 Iowa win over New Orleans at Principal Park, but he reached base to extend his consecutive on-base streak to nine games. He has 13 multi-hit games in his last 22 starts.

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