Hiroki Kuroda spoke to Sponichi and told them he serious considered retirement this winter.
You agreed to a contact with the Yankees on December 6, over a month after you became a free agent.
I actually serious thought about retiring. This was the first off-season I thought about it so much.
Because of the way I approach baseball. As a pitcher, getting hit is a tough thing to swallow. The Majors is not a place where you can get excused from winning because of your age, there is no preferential treatment. If you cannot perform, you walk away. I am beginning to think that there is a difference in what retirement means in Japan [and over here].
You had the best ERA in the American League on August 19, but you also lost six in a row toward the end of the season.
I was trying to figure out why I could not do the things I was doing in the first half. In thinking about it now, I think it is because I pushed myself too hard during the first half. The team was also struggling. I lost steam over the course of the season, both mentally and physically.
Your teammates Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera retired last year and there was a retirement ceremony for Hideki Matsui. Did you feel anything?
I spoke to Matsui about retirement during Rivera's retirement ceremony. We are in the same age group and he was always someone I noticed so I wanted to ask him some things about retirement. I thought Matsui could still play a little more. But he said he was done. He said he felt that. I thought that maybe that was what it came down to for players. That stuck with me.
Matsui was struggling with his body toward the end of his career after having surgery on both his knees.
In that sense, I have not really pushed myself that much yet. And I wondered if it was really ok for me to be thinking about retirement.
After you became a free agent, the Yankees were really interested in re-signing you. We hear the Yankees also approached about an extension during the season.
It was the day after I beat the Angels and recorded my eleventh victory. The owner, Hal Steinbrenner, happened to be in the weight room and he said they were ready to talk. I think that is when they approached my agent. I did become a free agent, but the Yankees are a special team. They valued me and that made me want to think about them first.
There was also talk about Hiroshima wanting to make you an offer.
As I have said many times before, if I play in Japan, it will be with the Carp. But, I am taking things year-by-year. I am still not sure how I want to end my career. When I received the call from Hiroshima this off-season, it was when I had already pretty much decided to stay with them. It was difficult to think about things at that point.
What are some things you are thinking about for this year?
I have managed to reach 200 innings the last three seasons, but is that really important to me? I wondered about that after watching Andy [Pettitte]. He has not pitched 200 innings that many times. But he has won a lot during the playoffs. Maybe there is a secret to it. So long as I am with the Yankees, the goal is to become world champs. That means I need to think about what the team needs from me the most.
Source: Sponichi 1/9/2014