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Kuroda reportedly to pitch in Japan for 2015 season

After spending past three years with Yanks, righty returning to Hiroshima Toyo Carp

NEW YORK -- Hiroki Kuroda has decided to return to Japan and pitch for his first professional team, the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, according to multiple reports.

A Japanese newspaper first reported the story on Friday, and later confirmed the report. Kuroda is set to earn $3.3 million from Hiroshima, for whom he pitched from 1997-2007.

Kuroda turns 40 in February and spent the last three seasons with the Yankees after beginning his Major League career with the Dodgers. He was one of the most durable hurlers on the Yankees' staff; this past season, he was the only member of the Opening Day rotation not to spend a day on the disabled list.

Kuroda completed the year 11-9 with a 3.71 ERA in 32 starts, spanning 199 innings. He produced career bests in walks per nine innings (1.58), strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.17) and WHIP (1.14).

Kuroda earned $16 million from the Yankees in 2014 and voiced a preference to work on one-year contracts each season, weighing thoughts of retirement or going home to pitch in Japan. At the conclusion of the season, Kuroda said that he asked former Yankee Andy Pettitte for advice on what to do next.

"Before the game yesterday, we talked about Andy's last outing last year in Houston," Kuroda said through an interpreter. "One thing I can say is, the fact that I was able to stay in the rotation the full year without getting injured, that's one thing I can say that fulfilled me."

As such, the Yankees headed into their offseason business unsure of what Kuroda's next move would be and attempted to fill out the rotation without him. They acquired right-hander Nathan Eovaldi from the Marlins in a five-player trade in December, and re-signed left-hander Chris Capuano to a one-year, $5 million deal.

Team president Randy Levine and general manager Brian Cashman have firmly stated that they are unlikely to join the chase for free agent Max Scherzer. The Yanks' rotation projects to be headed by CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda. Ivan Nova could return from the disabled list in late May.

As a Yankee, Kuroda was 38-33 with a 3.44 ERA in 97 starts. No pitcher who has made at least 50 starts with the Yankees produced a lower career ERA as a starter since Ron Guidry compiled a 3.32 mark from 1975-88.

Over his seven-year big league career, Kuroda was 79-79 with a 3.45 ERA in 1,319 career innings.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for
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