UPDATE: With the Dodgers off the table, Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com was told by a source that Hiroki Kuroda is now “considering all options,” including offers from major-league teams regardless of location as well an offer to return home to pitch for the Hiroshima Carp. For what it’s worth, the expectation is that he could earn more with a major-league club than in Japan.
11:40 AM: The Dodgers signed left-hander Chris Capuano to a two-year, $10 million contract yesterday, which effectively signified as a goodbye to Hiroki Kuroda. Many believe that the veteran right-hander would rather go back to Japan than pitch for another team in the United States, but that hasn’t stopped other MLB teams from expressing interest.
Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies “have quietly pursued” Kuroda and believe they may have a decent chance of signing him based on “preliminary conversations.” However, it’s not clear whether they have had any direct talks with Kuroda’s agent.
Kuroda, who turns 37 in February, lost 16 games for a lousy Dodgers team this season, but posted a 3.07 ERA and 161/49 K/BB ratio over 202 innings. He has a 3.45 ERA since coming over to the United States in 2008, which is better than fellow National League hurlers Roy Oswalt, Yovani Gallardo, Ted Lilly and Chad Billingsley. There aren’t many quality free agent starting pitchers available this winter, so he could fetch a pretty nice contract if he elects to stick around.
The Rockies are no longer in the running for Oswalt, but also remain interested in Kevin Millwood and Jeff Francis.
The Royals are a game and a half out of the crazy AL Wild Card race — six games back of the Indians in the division — so they don’t have a huge margin for error. They got some bad news last night, though, that could have a major impact on their playoff hopes: closer Kelvin Herrera experienced tightness in his right forearm in the ninth inning of last night’s win, forcing him out of the game.
Herrera walked the bases loaded, then went to a 2-0 count on the next batter before leaving the game. That last pitch was a fastball that clocked in at 91 m.p.h., which is NOT a typical Kelvin Herrera fastball. Herrera didn’t talk after the game but his teammate Sal Perez said that Herrera told him “I’m tight. I don’t feel my forearm.”
Reporters left the clubhouse before an official diagnosis or prognosis could be delivered, so expect an update some time today. If Herrera is out the closer duties could fall to Scott Alexander or Brandon Maurer.
Albert Pujols had a big night last night, driving in four runs as the Angels beat the Rangers 10-1. Three of those runs came on a three-run homer. That was the 610th home run of Pujols’ career, snapping a tie for eighth on the all-time list with Sammy Sosa. It also made him baseball’s all-time leader for home runs by a player born outside the U.S.
Pujols was aware of the accomplishment, of course, and noted how honored he was after the game:
”It’s pretty special. Obviously, all the great players from the Dominican Republic, Latin America, Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia, they’ve gone through the big leagues and to be able to accomplish something like this is very humbling.”
After Sosa, who is from the Dominican Republic, comes Rafael Palmeiro (569); Manny Ramirez (555); David Ortiz (541); Carlos Delgado (473); Jose Canseco (462); Adrian Beltre and Miguel Cabrera (459).