Hiroki Kuroda had a less-than-ideal 2013 debut.
The right-hander surrendered a Red Sox run in the top of the first inning then took a Shane Victorino line drive off his right fingertips to lead off the second. Kuroda hit the next batter, Jackie Bradley Jr. and walked Jacoby Ellsbury on four pitches. He then plunked Daniel Nava with the bases loaded.
Kuroda was pulled after facing 11 Boston hitters and allowing two runs on a walk and four hits. It was by far the shortest start of his major league career.
The Victorino line drive probably caused some numbness in his right fingers, but Kuroda’s struggles began in the first. The Yankees desperately need the 38-year-old from Osaka, Japan to eat innings this season and he was unable to do that on Wednesday night against the rival Red Sox. Boston won the game 7-4.
UPDATE, 8:47 PM ET: MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports that Kuroda has been diagnosed with a bruised right middle finger. He will undergo precautionary X-rays at Yankee Stadium.
UPDATE, 10:51 PM ET: The X-rays were negative, according to Hoch. Kuroda is day-to-day.
Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.
The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.
The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.
In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.