Earlier this winter, there was a sense that Hiroki Kuroda had changed his mind. He didn’t want to pitch for the Yankees in the past, but he suddenly jumped on their $10-million offer. The implication, of course, was that Kuroda didn’t like the Yankees, but he liked their money.
This morning, Kuroda said that’s a bit of a misconception.
“It’s obviously one of the prominent teams, not just in baseball but in all of sports worldwide,” he said. “This is a team of tradition and a lot of heritage and a lot of players came out of it, and I wanted to be on a team with a lot of pride, and I wanted to be able to win a championship. This has been my goal since I came from Japan, and I thought this would be the chance that I would get, and that’s why I joined the Yankees.”
So why wouldn’t he come to the Yankees at last year when the Yankees looked into acquiring him at the trade deadline?
“Last year during spring training, I was wearing a Dodgers uniform,” he said. “I wanted to win a championship with the team I had in spring training. I wanted to stick with the team and stick with my teammates, and when the offer came, I really had to think. I just couldn’t change my my mind, and I decided to stick with the Dodgers.”
For whatever it’s worth, Kuroda said he’s always liked New York — “A lot of people, a lot of cars obviously, but I’ve always felt a positive energy from it,” he said — and although he wouldn’t commit to any plans beyond this season, Kuroda said he’s fully committed “to give 100 percent and contribute to the Yankees as much as possible.”
Will the American League East be much different from the National League West?
“I’m aware there’s a lot of great hitters in the American League East,” he said. “But it’s something I have to be on the mound and feel myself. I’m sure I’ll have that experience.”