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Sweeny: Breaking Down Kuroda, The Yankees’ Rotation And Potential Outfield Help

There was a point in the last week where it may have seemed that Hiroki Kuroda was going to pitch elsewhere in 2013.

Los Angeles, Japan, somewhere other than New York. If that had happened, it would have sent some panic waves through Yankees fans, who perhaps would struggle to swallow an extra helping of turkey or pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving Day.

Eat without worry, my friends. Kuroda is indeed coming back to the Yankees in 2013. Here is what general manager Brian Cashman had to say about the Japanese right-hander, who, surprisingly, was the Yankees’ best and most consistent starter in 2012:

“Hiroki did a phenomenal job for us last year and we had a strong preference of retaining him. I suspect it was a very aggressive market for him, it should have been. We feel fortunate that we were able to acquire him last year, and I feel the same way this year. He can play a really important role here as he did last year. He’s a pro. He did everything on the field, and had a seamless transition to New York and our clubhouse off the field.”

Cashman said that the Yankees feel as if they have a competitive rotation right now, but they’re always looking to add to it.

“The pitching is our priority and has been our priority, so we will continue on those efforts,” Cashman said. “But right now on paper we do have five starters. You’ve got CC (Sabathia), Kuroda, (Phil) Hughes, (Ivan) Nova, (David) Phelps. But we certainly would like to add to that, lengthen it, deepen it and strengthen it.”

OK, first of all he’s obviously not counting Andy Pettitte yet, even if the rest of us are. There was every indication given by Pettitte at season’s end that he wanted to pitch again — he just hasn’t made that decision public yet. When he does, he will be a Yankee and will be part of the rotation.

“Andy is deciding whether he wants to play,” Cashman said. “As of right now he hasn’t put himself in play, so there is really nothing to discuss at this point until he goes through that process.”

As I mentioned, there is no reason at this point to think that Pettitte will not be back, so let’s jump off that bridge again when we get there.

As for Nova, his season was a disappointment, but there is still too much potential there to ignore. The plan to rebuild his confidence appears to be under way.

“I feel really good about Nova,” Cashman said. “Has a good young arm … This year, (it was) sophomore growing pains or whatever you want to call it. But at the same time his strikeout total soared and his walk total even reduced. It was an interesting year for him. His stuff is there. He’s a good, young, under control, not even arbitration-eligible starter with a boatload of experience both positive and negative.


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