Japanese Baseball · Marjor League Baseball · NPB

Hiroki Kuroda hangs up spikes

Former Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees pitcher Hiroki Kuroda has announced his retirement. The work horse will hang up his spikes after the upcoming Nippon Series in which Kuroda’s team, the Hiroshima Toyo Carp will take on the Nippon Ham Fighters.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor Hiroki Kuroda
Hiroki Kuroda (photo: Japan Times)

Kuroda made the announcement during a press conference last night. Before the practice on the field he made the announcement to his team mates.

Kuroda was drafted by the Carp in 1996. During his NPB debut vs the Yomiuri Giants on April 25 1997, he pitched a complete game victory. In 2005 he pitched a string of 15 consecutive wins. As a result he won the Japanese gold glove award and was named best pitcher of that season.

To Kuroda, playing baseball never was fun. As a kid he was not allowed once to drink during the practice during extreme temperatures. Because of the thirst he drank out of a polluted river. “It was a generation,” Kuroda once said , “when coaches believed you should not drink water.”

“I’ve never enjoyed playing baseball; never enjoyed pitching, to be honest with you,” Kuroda said. “Whether it’s a spring training game, a regular season game, I put pressure on myself to be as normal as I can”, Kuroda once stated in an interview with the New York Post. “I’m not saying this because I’m with the Yankees,” Kuroda said. “This has been all throughout my professional career. There’s a lot of responsibility as a starting pitcher, so rather than enjoy myself out there, I feel like I have to fulfill my responsibilities and that’s my priority.”

During his career in Japan (1997 – 2007 and 2015 and 2016) Kuroda recorded 121 wins and 104 losses in 315 games. In the seven seasons that he  pitched in the MLB, he recorded an equal number of wins and losses (79) and a 3.45 ERA. He kept his opponents limited to a batting average of .249.

Kuroda was always regarded as a workhorse, an inning eater. Kuroda was the pitcher that you needed to pitch a complete game to give the bullpen a much needed rest.

It would be nice if he could finish his career with an NPB championship.

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