Get to know Hiroki Kuroda
The Yankees signed veteran pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, 37, to a one-year, $10 million deal for the 2012 season. Learn more about the Japanese hurler with these 10 facts.
Compiled by Jim Mancari
Hiroki Kuroda was born in Osaka, Japan, in 1975. He is one of 13 Japanese-born ballplayers currently on Major League rosters.
Kuroda’s father, Kazuhiro Kuroda, was a centerfielder for the Nankai Hawks of Nippon Professional Baseball from 1949-1956.
Kuroda was drafted in the second round of the Nippon draft in 1996 and won the Japanese Rookie of the Year Award in 1997.
Appearing in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, Kuroda picked up two wins as a reliever in Japan’s bronze medal finish.
Prior to the 2007 season, Kuroda agreed to a four-year, 1.2 billion yen ($15.6 million U.S.) to remain with the Hiroshima Tokyo Carp. However, the contract included a clause in which Kuroda could negotiate with Major League teams at any point during the four-year span. Sure enough, after the first year of the four-year contract, he wound up signing a three-year, $35.3 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
From 2008-2011, Kuroda amassed a 43-49 career record for the Dodgers with a 3.45 ERA and 523 strikeouts. He recorded a win in the 2008 National League Division Series against the Cubs and a win against the Phillies in that year’s Championship Series. However, he gave up six runs in an inning-plus against the Phillies in his only start of the 2009 NLCS.
Kuroda has a four-pitch repertoire: a low-to-mid 90s fastball, a splitter, a sinker and a two-seam sinker that’s effective in getting ground balls.
After a loss to the Rockies on July 27, 2011, Kuroda became the first Dodgers starting pitcher since Orel Hershiser (1992-1993) to lose at least 13 games for two straight seasons. He finished 13-16 in 2011.
Kuroda took a perfect game into the eighth inning against Atlanta on July 7, 2008, but surrendered a leadoff double to lose the bid — to Mark Teixeira. It was the only hit allowed in Kuroda’s 91-pitch, complete-game shutout.