Yankees “more upbeat” about potential return of free agent right-hander Hiroki Kuroda

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The Yankees signed free agent catcher Brian McCann to a five-year, $85 million contract on Saturday evening. And there may be more positive developments on the way for Bronx Bombers fans.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes Sunday that the Yankees’ higher-ups “have moved from gloomy early in the offseason to more upbeat that Hiroki Kuroda will return for another year.” The free agent right-hander turns 39 years old in February and was thought to be considering a return to his native Japan. If the Yankees can get him back on a low-risk one-year pact, it’d take some pressure off a pitching-needy team in a market without frontline options.

Kuroda struggled down the stretch in 2013, but he still wound up with a cool 3.31 ERA (122 ERA+) in 201 1/3 innings for the season and he boasts a 3.24 ERA over his last 623 major league frames.

Video: J.D. Martinez hits league-tying 23rd home run

Seattle Mariners v Boston Red Sox
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The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.

In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.

The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.