Hiroki Kuroda pitched for the Dodgers and the Yankees over the last seven years, and was one of the most reliable pitchers in the majors during that span. But upon his return to Japan, after leaving in 2007, he is not remembering his years playing in the U.S. as particularly wonderful.
During a news conference in Japan, Kuroda was asked how he viewed his time in the major leagues and used one word to describe it:
“To sum it up in one word, it was ‘tough,'” the right-hander said. “In a situation in which I didn’t understand the language and battled to make it through the season, the seven years were — including physically — tougher than they were enjoyable.”
Kuroda bolted the Yankees after last season and admitted his time playing in America was an arduous learning experience.
“In terms of technical aspects, I learned how to make adjustments. As far as mental aspects, I learned how to pitch in tough situations.”
The 40-year-old Kuroda was the Yankees’ most consistent pitcher the past three seasons, working on a succession of one-year deals during some relatively lean years for the club. Kuroda went a combined 38-33 with a 3.44 ERA and 1.16 WHIP and probably should had 50 wins if the Yankees gave him some run support. He previously pitched four seasons for the Dodgers.
Kuroda will start pitching for the Hiroshima Carp this season — who have held his No. 15 since he left.
But here's hoping you make it back to Yankee Stadium for Old Timer's Day some time in the future Hiroki.