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07/30/11 10:30 PM ET
Kuroda won't waive no-trade clause
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- Hiroki Kuroda, one of the prime targets for clubs needing starting pitching, took himself off the market on Saturday when he told the Dodgers he would not waive his no-trade clause. "I told [Dodgers GM Ned Colletti] through my agent that I'll be wearing the Dodger uniform through the season," Kuroda said. "I'm not going anywhere." Kuroda, 36, had been shopped around the past two weeks. As of Saturday morning, the remaining clubs exchanging player proposals with the Dodgers were the Red Sox, Yankees and Rangers. "We were cautious all the way because we knew he'd have to give permission," said Colletti. "We had some idea of what we probably could have done [as far as players to acquire], but we never got to that point." Kuroda was approached by Colletti almost two weeks ago and was told the club was willing to trade him if he wanted. He asked to be kept informed, but apparently was never presented a specific deal to approve.
"He was a little bit hesitant, apprehensive, when I talked to him in San Francisco," said Colletti. "I was fine with it either way. If he chose to stay here, fine with me. Whatever he wanted." Why was Kuroda apparently willing to consider a deal then and not now? "I had to think about it," Kuroda said. "Any player would like to win. I know how it feels to pitch in the playoffs, how exciting it can be. I had to fight to come to the conclusion. That's my decision." Kuroda said he made a decision last winter to return for one year, "and I'm going to stick with it," he said. "It was a privilege to play in the playoffs," he said. "But a key factor in staying here and that it's really important to play with the same guys I started the season with. I want to finish with these guys. It's hard for me to win, but it's more important to play with my teammates." Colletti said the no-trade clause was as important to Kuroda during negotiations as the $12 million salary, so he wasn't surprised at the outcome. "I think, in a way, that's refreshing," he said. "He wants to fulfill that commitment. I'm not surprised that's how he feels. In my heart of hearts, knowing him the way I do, I would have been more surprised if he said he'd go someplace else. In San Francisco, he wasn't eager to have that conversation." Colletti said Kuroda has been a positive influence on Clayton Kershaw's maturation and added that the Dodgers would be interested in him returning next year, but that subject has not yet come up. Kuroda said the trade speculation hasn't been a distraction; in fact, he considered it a compliment. "As a player, having teams interested is an honor," he said. "It's no distraction at all. Kuroda is in the midst of a well-pitched season, but that isn't reflected in the win column. Overall, he's 6-13 with a 3.11 ERA. Since the club moved to Los Angeles, no Dodgers pitcher has won as few as six games and lost as many as 13 with an ERA lower than 3.11. The closest was Kevin Gross, who went 8-13 with a 3.17 ERA in the Dodgers' 99-loss season of 1992. On Wednesday night, Kuroda suffered his fourth consecutive loss and 10th of his last 11 decisions. But in 12 starts since May 22, while going 1-10, he had a 3.38 ERA. During those 12 games, the Dodgers scored 18 runs. The Dodgers have scored two runs or fewer in eight of his 13 losses. Kuroda came to the Dodgers after an 11-season career in Japan with Hiroshima, where he won in double-figures six times but never reached the postseason. He signed a three-year, $35.3 million free-agent deal with the Dodgers and reached the playoffs in his first season. He also made the postseason in 2009, but that season will be remembered for the frightening line drive Kuroda took off his forehead in Arizona. Kuroda returned quickly from a concussion, but later discovered he also suffered a neck injury that plagued him the rest of the year. The past two seasons, Kuroda has been a durable innings eater, despite compiling losing records both seasons. Overall, he is 34-43 in the Major Leagues. "It can't ever be easy for anybody to pick up," said manager Don Mattingly, who was never traded. "You've got your family somewhere go to a whole new city, a whole different environment, whole new teammates. It can't be an easy thing for someone that lives here. Hiro, who's from another country, understands a little bit of the language, but he'd have to go and get accustomed really fast."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.