Thursday, December 13, 2007

Japanese Pitcher Still Hasn't Chosen Suitor from Kuroda-d Field

The one reporter-slash-blogger most positive on the Dodgers' signing of Hiroki Kuroda, Tony Jackson, now reports that it is still up in the air (even if Kuroda's plane landed early this morning).

All indications are that free-agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, a veteran right-hander for the Hiroshima Carp who is seeking to come to the United States, has decided to sign with the Dodgers after being pursued at various times this winter by as many as 20 major-league clubs. But if Kuroda has made such a decision, that is news to Dodgers officials.

General manager Ned Colletti said early Wednesday evening that the club still hadn't received word from either Kuroda or his San Diego-based agent, Steve Hilliard, that a decision had been made. But Kuroda's arrival in Los Angeles from Tokyo on Wednesday morning, along with a slew of media reports out of Japan, all point toward Kuroda accepting what is believed to be a three-year, $30 million offer from the Dodgers.

"His agent resides out here, so (the trip) shouldn't be interpreted as anything other than him meeting with his representatives here in the U.S.," Colletti said at a news conference to formally introduce Andruw Jones, the Dodgers' newly signed center fielder.

Besides that of the Dodgers, the most valiant efforts to land Kuroda came from Seattle, Arizona and Kansas City. But Kuroda, 32, strongly prefers the West Coast. His ultimate decision to go with the Dodgers over the Mariners -- assuming that widely reported decision has actually been made -- apparently was the result of several factors, not the least of which were Los Angeles' vast Asian population, more lucrative endorsement opportunities and Kuroda's longtime friendship with Dodgers closer Takashi Saito.

I'm sure that Takashi has said hello once or twice (during negotiations)," Colletti said. "Maybe more, I don't know."

In fact, Saito actually joined Dodgers Asian operations director Acey Kohrogi and Japan-based scout Keiichi Kojima at a face-to-face meeting with Kuroda last month in Hiroshima.

So what do we know about this situation? First, Colletti's Japanese isn't that good. And second, either Colletti (or Tony Jackson) hasn't heard the adage "don't count your chickens before they're hatched." Let's just cross our fingers that Jackson is right, or we'll be seeing a lot more of Esteban Loaiza next year.

And let's hope that Kuroda hasn't seen video of that 2002 game with Kaz Ishii on the mound at Dodger Stadium. Yeech, that video gives me the creeps.


Orel said...

"Summarily Rowand"..."Kuroda-d Field"...somebody's working overtime at the pun factory.