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Thursday, April 12, 2012
Kuroda on Opener: Worried, not excited

By Andrew Marchand

Hiroki Kuroda has never played in Yankee Stadium. So when he throws the first home pitch for the Yankees a little after 1 p.m. on Friday, he will have more nerves than anything else.

"Rather than being excited, I'm more worried about how I'm going to perform," Kuroda said through his interpreter.

Kuroda didn't pitch well in his first Yankee start, an 8-6 loss to the Rays. He lasted 5 2/3 innings, but his cutter found too much of the plate and he gave up six runs (four earned). His focus on Friday is to figure out his new surroundings.

"Since I've never pitched at Yankee Stadium, I'm a little bit pre-occupied," Kuroda said. "I just have to do my best."

Kuroda, 37, has faced the new main attraction for the Angels, Albert Pujols when they Dodgers played the Cardinals. Pujols has just three hits in 15 at-bats (.200) against Kurod, including one homer and a double.

Kuroda is "honored" to throw the first official pitch of 2012 in the Bronx, but he sounds more excited about Manhattan.

"A lot of people, a lot of cars and a lot of Japanese restaurants," Kuroda said when asked what he knows about the city.