Ex-Yankees pitcher Hiroki Kuroda to retire

Tokyo (AFP) –


Former New York Yankees pitcher Hiroki Kuroda Tuesday announced his retirement from professional baseball at the end of this season.

After seven years in Major League Baseball, Kuroda took a whopping 80 percent pay cut last year to return to his home team in Japan.

His decision to come back, apparently to conclude his career with the Hiroshima Carp, sent Hiroshima fans into a frenzy and helped the Japanese Central League club win this season's championship.

Kuroda, 41, said he decided to announce his retirement before the team play in the Japan Series against the Pacific League champions, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.

"Now we are playing in the Japan Series. Knowing the next game may become my last one to pitch, I thought I have to let my team-mates and many supporters know that," he was quoted by the Daily Sports newspaper as saying.

Kuroda pitched for Hiroshima from 1997 to 2007 before joining the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2008-11 and the Yankees from 2012-14. On his return home he signed a one-year deal with Hiroshima worth an estimated $3.3 million.

He was paid $16 million by the Yankees in his last season when he went 11-9 with a 3.71 earned run average in 32 starts.

Kuroda, who won a bronze medal for Japan at the 2004 Athens Olympics, compiled a 79-79 record in seven MLB seasons with a 3.45 ERA.