Category archive: Hiroki Kuroda

THAT'S A GOOD HEAD ON KURODA's SHOULDERS (7:34 p.m. ET)
Dodgers manager Joe Torre has been impressed with pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, especially with his resiliency. Kuroda spent just 21 days on the disabled list last year after getting hit on the front right side of his head by a comebacker and suffering a concussion.

"For him to come back as quickly as he did -- and he did have some testers during rehab with a line drive through the middle and a broken bat that came toward him -- I thought he recovered from that well," Torre said.

Kuroda figures to be the Dodgers' No. 3 starter this season behind Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley as he enters the final year of a three-year $35.3 million contract. On Thursday, he will have an extended throwing session before making his debut in a spring game Tuesday.

"I just have to keep moving forward. I can't give up," Kuroda said. "This game is my destiny so I just have to move forward."
-- The Associated Press

FANS, AND A LEGEND, LINE UP FOR LINCECUM (7:08 p.m. ET)
San Francisco Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum, the NL Cy Young Award in back-to-back seasons, had a not-so-Cy outing in his spring debut against the Seattle Mariners.

Lincecum gave up three runs -- two earned -- on two hits while throwing 33 pitches in one inning. But fans didn't care about the numbers. They just wanted to see him pitch and get an autograph from the 25-year-old who signed a two-year, $23 million contract just days before reporting to camp.

Lincecum obliged for dozens of fans on his way to the visitors' clubhouse at the Peoria Sports Complex. Later he sat on a stool in front of his corner dressing stall in the clubhouse, where he was surrounded by a large group of reporters. A member of the Mariners infiltrated the group, extended his arm and shook Lincecum's hand.

"What's up?" center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. said.
-- The Associated Press

HUDSON, HEYWARD LOOK SHARP (5:09 p.m. ET)
Tim Hudson pitched two sharp innings and rookie Jason Heyward doubled and scored as the Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets 9-5 in a Grapefruit League game.

Hudson missed most of the 2009 season after recovering from Tommy John surgery. The right-hander said he threw pain-free against the Mets and went to the bullpen for more tossing after facing only six batters.

Heyward, a 20-year-old outfielder considered by many the best prospect in baseball, walked twice, singled and stole a base Tuesday against the Mets in their exhibition opener.
-- The Associated Press

BONDERMAN SIGHT FOR SORE TIGERS EYES (4:42 p.m. ET)

Jeremy Bonderman pitched two shutout innings in the Tigers' 7-6 exhibition win over the Blue Jays after missing most of the last two seasons because of a blood clot in his right shoulder that required surgery.

"I was just all over the place. The adrenaline got me out of sync a little bit," Bonderman said. "I was able to get out of it and (in) the second inning I just kind of tried to stay within myself and work on using the mechanics I've been working on, just trying to stay on top of the ball and let my arm catch up."

Bonderman, a 14-game winner in 2005 and again in 2006, and winner of 11 in 2007 before having surgery in June '08, struck out three and allowed one hit. He allowed a single and a walk to the first two batters he faced before striking out Adam Lind and, after a double steal, striking out Vernon Wells and getting Lyle Overbay on a routine grounder. He had a 1-2-3 second inning.
-- The Associated Press

HARANG TO START OPENING DAY FOR REDS (2:01 p.m. ET)
For the fifth straight season, right-hander Aaron Harang will be the Cincinnati Reds' Opening Day starting pitcher.

Manager Dusty Baker said he wrestled with the decision, but chose Harang instead of Bronson Arroyo after talking it over with both pitchers. The Reds open at home on Monday, April 5 against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The honor ties Harang with Pete Donahue (1923-27) and Mario Soto (1982-86) for the most consecutive Opening Day starts in team history. Soto holds the club record with six Opening Day starts overall.

Harang was excited about the news, but said he believed Arroyo deserved the honor. Opening Day is a big annual event in Cincinnati, with a downtown parade and on-field pregame ceremonies.

"You have to have a different approach with all the hoopla," Harang said. "After you've done it once, you know how to do it."

Harang is 1-3 in his previous four Opening Day starts. He got the win over the Cubs in 2007, and took losses against the Mets in 2009, the Diamondbacks in 2008 and the Cubs in 2006.
-- ESPN.com news services

JAYS' MARCUM, MCGOWAN PROGRESSING (12:29 p.m. ET)
The Blue Jays appear to be very encouraged by the progress of two injured pitchers from 2009, Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan.

The ball "is really coming out of Marcum's hand," said manager Cito Gaston. And McGowan, at times this spring, has shown some of the dominant stuff that he had two years ago.

The Jays have three potential closers in camp with Kevin Gregg, Jason Frasor and Scott Downs. Gaston said spring training will determine who will close, but said he could mix and match with all three of them in the late innings.
-- Tim Kurkjian, ESPN The Magazine

COMPETITION GOOD IN PIRATES CAMP (12:25 p.m. ET)
The Pirates have a lot of competition in camp, "and competition is good," said manager John Russell.

Jeff Clement will be given the first shot to win the job at first base, but if he doesn't play well enough, the Pirates can play Ryan Church in right field and move Garrett Jones from right field to first, which is his most natural position.

Lastings Milledge is scheduled to be the everyday left fielder, but only if he takes the job this spring. He came to camp in better shape, and said he is taking nothing for granted.

Several positions could change if 23-year-old third baseman Pedro Alvarez continues to progress. He has one year in pro ball, and has never played at Triple-A, but he could be up sometime this summer.
-- Tim Kurkjian, ESPN The Magazine

GIANTS' SANCHEZ DOUBTFUL FOR OPENING DAY (10:27 a.m. ET)
San Francisco Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez is not expecting to pick up a baseball bat for another week or two as he recovers from shoulder surgery, making it unlikely that he will be ready for Opening Day.

"I would agree with that because I'm missing a lot of time," Sanchez said Tuesday, according to the San Jose Mercury-News. "The closer we get, the harder it is to [envision] getting back by then."

Manager Bruce Bochy agrees with that assessment.

"I'd go with very doubtful," Bochy said, according to the report. "As much as he's moving along, that would be rushing him. We'd have concerns about that. And besides, we're covered. We have experienced guys to help out there."

The Giants could use Juan Uribe or Mark DeRosa at second until Sanchez is ready to return.
-- ESPN.com news services

CABRERA OPENS UP ABOUT ALCOHOL USE (10:16 a.m. ET)
Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera says an inability to handle stress or communicate with those who care about him led him to use alcohol.

Cabrera, who sought help and gave up drinking after an embarrassing alcohol-related incident at the end of last season, told reporters that he held things inside instead and was ill-prepared to handle the pressures of the game.

"Everything was built up inside of me," Cabrera said. "I was angry at everybody."

"I would talk to nobody," Cabrera added. "But now, I go talk with my wife and my dad and go into everything. But I would talk to nobody, and so most people didn't know me.

"Now, I have conversations and I feel better. I communicate better. People can get to know me, and what's inside of me," he said.
-- ESPN.com news services

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March, 19, 2009
03/19/09
11:35
AM ET
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BONDERMAN MAKES FIRST START (11:09 p.m. ET)
Jeremy Bonderman was more relieved to be back on the mound than pleased with his two scoreless innings. Bonderman made his first start since missing most of last season after having surgery to repair a circulatory condition in his shoulder and gave up two hits in the Tigers' 5-2 loss to the Braves.

Bonderman's return this spring was slowed by more soreness in the shoulder. At one point, he returned to Detroit to be examined by team physicians.

"It's been a long fight to get back," he said. "It was a relief to go out there and throw again with no pain. I'm over the hump."

The Tigers are hoping Bonderman can join a rotation that includes Justin Verlander, Armando Galarraga and Edwin Jackson after going just 3-4 with a 4.29 ERA before being shut down in June. Bonderman won at least 11 games -- and pitched at least 160 innings -- in each of the previous four seasons. On Thursday, he walked two and did not strike out a batter.

"My mechanics are not where I'd like them to be. There is a timing issue, but I'll get stronger," Bonderman said. "I'll be sore tomorrow, but normal sore. I'll be fine to throw again in five days. And the more I pitch, the stronger the arm will get."

LOWRIE, RED SOX ROUGH UP ARROYO (10:44 p.m. ET)
Jed Lowrie had another big game at the plate, hitting a two-run homer off Bronson Arroyo to lead the Red Sox over the Reds 9-1.

Arroyo was hit hard by his former team in the third inning. Lowrie's second home run of the spring came with Rocco Baldelli on base. One out and one walk later, Chris Carter went deep.

Lowrie also doubled in the first, giving him a team-high 17 hits this spring.

MARSHALL TO START FOR CUBS (10:32 p.m. ET)
Manager Lou Piniella made it official and named left-hander Sean Marshall as the Cubs' No. 5 starter to begin the season.

The 26-year-old Marshall had the inside track on the job from the beginning of spring training ahead of his chief competitors, right-handers Aaron Heilman and Jeff Samardzija.

Piniella made his announcement after Heilman started and beat the Mariners 9-2 on Thursday.

Marshall is 2-0 with an 0.63 ERA this spring while Heilman is 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA. Piniella said Heilman will go to the bullpen and pitch in the seventh and eighth innings.

TRIBE'S CARMONA HIT BY LINE DRIVE (8:41 p.m. ET)
Cleveland right-hander Fausto Carmona was hit on the right arm by a line drive while pitching in a minor league intrasquad game.

An Indians spokesman said Thursday X-rays were negative and that Carmona is "day to day with a right forearm contusion."

Carmona, a 19-game winner in 2007, missed two months last season with a strained left hip. He went only 8-7 with a 5.44 ERA, walking 70 and striking out 58 in 120 2-3 innings.

This spring, Carmona has a 2.45 ERA in four Cactus League games, including three starts. He has walked five and fanned four.

WELLS SET FOR FRIDAY RETURN (7:41 p.m. ET)
Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells is expected to return from a strained left hamstring and make his first spring training appearance this year on Friday as a designated hitter.

Wells last month re-injured the hamstring that kept him on the disabled list for a month late last season, when he hit .300 with 20 home runs and 78 RBIs in 108 games.

Toronto manager Cito Gaston said Wells may play three innings in the field Saturday before getting a day off Sunday.

PELFREY NEARING TOP FORM (7:13 p.m. ET)
Mike Pelfrey looks ready for the regular season. The Houston Astros don't.

Pelfrey pitched six sharp innings and the New York Mets routed the floundering Astros 12-1 on Thursday, dropping Houston to 1-16-3 this spring.

Pelfrey, meanwhile, is getting stronger as the spring goes on. Making his second start since skipping a turn with a strained muscle in his lower left leg, the right-hander was perfect through the first four innings Thursday. He allowed one run and three hits in all, with one walk and three strikeouts.

KAZMIR SATISFIED TO PLAY (6:07 p.m. ET)
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- A shaky spring training outing didn't faze Scott Kazmir.

Although Tampa Bay's All-Star left-hander gave up a three-run homer to Ryan Ludwick and a solo shot to Rick Ankiel during Thursday's 9-7 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, he didn't view his latest start as a setback.

The 25-year-old said he was affected by a stomach virus and was satisfied to get in four innings, even though the Cardinals got to him for five runs and eight hits.

BLANTON HAS BEST SPRING START (5:49 p.m. ET)
Joe Blanton had his best start of spring training, allowing just one hit over six scoreless innings for the Phillies in a 5-1 win over the Marlins.

"He threw strikes," manager Charlie Manuel said. "[Pitching coach Rich] Dubee said he threw 19 first-pitch strikes out of 20. That's unreal. That's super."

Blanton, the Phillies' No. 4 starter, struck out three and didn't walk a batter, lowering his ERA to 2.30. But he still wasn't completely satisfied.

"My location for the most part I was a little better today than I have been with it earlier in the spring," the right-hander said. "I don't know if the slider is as good as it was the last game I felt like my changeup stepped up a little bit."

KAWAKAMI SCRATCHED FROM START (3:33 p.m. ET)
Atlanta Braves right-hander Kenshin Kawakami was scratched from his scheduled spring training start Thursday night because of shoulder fatigue.

Kawakami, the first Japanese player ever signed by the Braves, is projected as one of the starters in a revamped rotation that also includes newcomers Derek Lowe and Javier Vazquez.

Vazquez will start in Kawakami's place against the Detroit Tigers.

Kawakami has started three games for the Braves, going 2-1 with a 1.86 ERA in 9 2/3 innings. He has allowed eight hits, walked four and struck out four.

ONE WORD: OUCH (1:09 p.m. ET)
Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval left Wednesday's game against the Cubs after he was struck in the mouth by Joey Gathright's bad-hop grounder in the fifth inning.

Sandoval wears braces, and both his top and bottom lip were pushed into the braces. "It implanted his lips to his braces. [Trainer] Dave Groeschner had to pull his lips off," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

Sandoval, the Giants' top candidate to start at third base while getting a crash course there this season, also chipped a tooth and was sent to see a dentist. "That's a hard infield, like a lot of these are in the desert, and it just came up on him," Bochy said.

Sandoval, hitting .450, is likely to miss the next two games, Bochy said.

MILLEDGE, BELLIARD NOT SERIOUSLY HURT (11:29 a.m. ET)
The Washington Nationals got some good news on the injury front Wednesday, when they learned that injuries to Lastings Milledge and Ronnie Belliard aren't believed to be serious.

Milledge is day-to-day with a left knee contusion; Belliard has a left ankle sprain and was expected to be re-evaluated on Thursday. Manager Manny Acta said the team expects Belliard to miss two or three days.

Milledge got hurt when he made knee-to-knee contact with Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez as he tried to leg out an infield single. Belliard was injured while trying to beat out a double play.

GET RIGHT BACK WHERE WE STARTED FROM (11:18 a.m. ET)
Jose Reyes is back in the New York Mets' leadoff spot, and for now the shortstop is there to stay.

Second baseman Luis Castillo, who had been batting leadoff, hit second again behind Reyes in the Mets' 7-4 loss Thursday to the Atlanta Braves. Manager Jerry Manuel had been batting Castillo first and Reyes third.

"[The experiment] is not over, but I think with Jose not being as active as I would have liked him to be [in the WBC], I've got to slowly get him back going," Manuel said. "To get him back going, I have to put him where he's comfortable. And I think that [leadoff spot] is where he's comfortable."

KURODA TO START DODGERS OPENER (11:06 a.m. ET)
Hiroki Kuroda has been named the Opening Day starter for the Los Angeles Dodgers' first regular-season game, April 6 at San Diego, manager Joe Torre announced.

Torre also announced that Randy Wolf, Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw will follow Kuroda in the rotation. He did not name a fifth starter.

Kuroda went 9-10 with a 3.73 ERA in 31 starts last season. He had 116 strikeouts, walked 42 and allowed 181 hits in 183 1/3 innings.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.