HOUSTON -- The Yankees know they will be without the retiring Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera in 2014. Another of their key pitchers is undecided about whether he, too, will hang up his spikes after the regular season ends Sunday.
Hiroki Kuroda, who was the Yankees' best starting pitcher before a precipitous second-half fade, would not rule out retiring when asked about his plans Friday. "It all depends on how I feel after the season and think about things,'' said Kuroda, a free agent after the season. "Right now, all I can say is I don't know.''
Kuroda will turn 39 on Feb. 10. He is 11-13 with a 3.31 ERA in his second year with the Yankees but is 1-7, 5.40 in his last 10 starts. Asked if he plans to pitch next season, he said through a translator: "I haven't made my mind up yet. So I don't know, to tell you the truth.''
The Yankees are assured of having only CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova back for their 2014 rotation. Pettitte will make his final start Saturday night and Phil Hughes will be a free agent after a disappointing season.
Kuroda signed a one-year, $15-million contract last November after flirting with the idea of finishing his career in his native Japan or returning to the Dodgers, with whom he pitched from 2008-11.
Kuroda could finish his career in Japan if he doesn't pitch in the U.S. "Obviously, there is a possibility,'' he said. "Anything's possible. But right now I can't think about it or make that decision.''
Kuroda didn't have an answer for his second-half fade, although fatigue often has been mentioned as a factor.
"Physically, I was able to throw [2011/3] innings this year,'' he said. "So I don't feel like I've lost my stamina.''
But has he lost his desire? He'll try to figure that out after Sunday's finale.