Friday, June 03, 2011

Hiroki Kuroda, Late Bloomer

Nice feature piece by Dylan Hernandez on Hiroki Kuroda, who wasn't the standout star in high school:

Clayton Kershaw was the national player of the year as a high school senior in Texas. Andre Ethier was an all-state player in Arizona. Rod Barajas was an all-league catcher in Southern California.

Hiroki Kuroda was none of that … and less.

Kuroda, who will start the Dodgers' series opener in Cincinnati on Friday, spent almost his entire high school career on the bench.

This wasn't one of those cases in which a coach played his son or nephew over a more talented player. "He was the third-best pitcher on the team," said Hidemasa Tanaka, who coached Kuroda at Uenomiya High in Japan's Osaka prefecture. [...] "I never imagined he would be able

to pitch here," Tanaka said.

Kuroda, 36, said his experience in high school is what drove him to become one of the most decorated Japanese pitchers of his era. "I wanted to prove him wrong," he said of Tanaka. [...]

"Pro scouts frequently came to watch our teams play," Tanaka said. "But no one bothered with Kuroda. There was no point." [...]

Kuroda said he hopes his story can inspire late-developing players.

"Right now, I'm sure there are many kids out there who want to quit," he said. "High school was really tough for me, but I think those bad times were beneficial to me. No matter what happens, I know I can deal with it."

So if you're having one of those days where you're geting beat up at work--just remember Hiro. Things will get better with discipline and hard work. And that's--one to grow on. Or the more you know. Whatever.