Although he promises a wide-open rotation competition in Yankees camp, even Joe Girardi conceeds that two spots are already decided. CC Sabathia will be the Yankees ace, and Hiroki Kuroda will slot somewhere behind him. The Yankees stretched the budget to sign Kuroda to a one-year, $10-million deal, and they have no plans of leaving him tucked away in the bullpen.
“When I was in Japan, and also when I came here, I don’t think I’ve spent a season or a spring training without worrying if I will make the rotation,” Kuroda said. “Even if (Girardi) says something like that, I don’t think it’s guaranteed. I’m always competitive, and I’m always competing for my spot.”
Kuroda’s first spring start was a mix of good and bad. He breezed through the first inning on nine pitches, then allowed three straight hits to start the second inning. When Stephen Vogt hit a two-run triple into right field, it cam only after Kuroda shook off Russell Martin to throw a backdoor slider.
“I just wanted to show them that I have that kind of pitch,” Kuroda said.
He missed his spot, and the Rays had opened the door to a three-run inning. Kuroda retired the next three batters.
“(The Yankees) haven’t seen me throughout the season and they don’t know what kind of pitcher I am,” Kuroda said. “I think I have to prove something to everyone. At the same time, I just want to contribute as much as possible to this team.”
Associated Press photo from earlier this spring