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Pregame notes: No pen for Kuroda

9/3/2013

NEW YORK -- For the first four months of the season, Hiroki Kuroda was the Yankees de facto ace, even if CC Sabathia carried the official label.

But for the past month or so, Kuroda has struggled -- he was 1-4 with a 6.25 ERA in August -- and the Yankees think the 38-year-old right-hander could be suffering from fatigue. So this week, the Yankees took steps to freshen Kuroda for tonight's start against the White Sox, by having him skip his customary between-starts bullpen session.

Although Joe Girardi played it down -- "It's something we do from time to time," he said -- considering how pitchers are always said to be creatures of strict habit, it will be interesting to see how, if at all, it affects Kuroda tonight.

"I wouldn't say it’s exactly the same, but sometimes you skip BP because you feel like your guys need to save their energy for the games, and that’s what we did," Girardi said. "I’m sure he threw enough and he did a little flat ground so it shouldn’t bother him. And you could argue that his last three starts he wasn't real sharp and he was throwing side sessions in between."

Kuroda has allowed 14 runs (12 earned) in his last two starts and interestingly enough, his August slide began with a loss to the White Sox in Chicago on August 6. But he is 2-2 lifetime with a 2.86 ERA against the Chisox, and in his only start against them at Yankee Stadium threw seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits, on June 30, 2012.

ALSO:

-- Derek Jeter is the DH tonight, but Girardi said that was just a precautionary move that he hopes will insure that his 39-year-old shortstop will be able to play most, if not all, of the remaining 25 games.

-- Girardi said the Yankees are still on rotation through the weekend series against the Boston Red Sox, meaning as of now, Phil Hughes will still make his scheduled start against them on Saturday.

-- White Sox starter Chris Sale has been murder on the Yankees, 2-0 in three career starts with a 0.49 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings. Sale beat Kuroda on August 6, allowing five hits and no earned runs in 7 1/3 innings.That lineup was without Jeter, however, who has one hit in three lifetime at-bats vs. Sale -- a home run.