Kuroda is set to make his major league debut Friday when the Dodgers open a three-game series against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.
Los Angeles (2-1) signed the 33-year-old Kuroda to a $35.3 million, three-year contract in December after he spent the past 11 years pitching for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of the Japanese Central League. Also in December, the Chicago Cubs signed right fielder Kosuke Fukudome, a two-time batting champ for the Chunichi Dragons and the 2006 MVP of the Central League.
Kuroda is 103-89 all-time in Japan, and went 12-8 with a 3.56 ERA and seven complete games in 26 outings in 2007. The right-hander is a three-time All-Star and was named the league’s Most Valuable Pitcher in 2005.
“Kuroda was arguably the best starting pitcher on the free-agent market and will be a great addition to our staff,” Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti told the team’s official Web site after the signing.
Kuroda got his first taste of major league competition in spring training, as he allowed 13 runs, struck out 17 and walked four in 23 2-3 innings over seven starts in the Grapefruit League.
“He’s a polished pitcher and it’s up to me to figure out how to get on the same page as him,” Los Angeles catcher Russell Martin said. “I’m sure I still have some things to learn about him.”
The Dodgers are coming off a 2-1 loss to San Francisco on Wednesday after winning the first two games of the season against their biggest rivals.
Los Angeles first baseman James Loney had a RBI single Wednesday, and is 5-for-9 with a double this season.
Loney is batting .417 (15-for-36) with two home runs and 11 RBIs lifetime versus the Padres. He is 4-for-8 with a homer and two doubles all-time against Friday’s scheduled starter, Justin Germano.
San Diego (3-4) went 10-8 against Los Angeles last season, winning six of nine at Petco Park.
Germano posted a 5.60 ERA in losing all three starts against the Dodgers last season, and is 0-4 with a 7.59 ERA in five career games versus them.
Germano begins the season as the Padres No. 5 starter after an encouraging spring training. In six games in the Cactus League, he pitched a team-high 24 2-3 innings, and gave up 15 runs - 10 earned - struck out 15 and walked five.
Last season, Germano joined the Padres’ starting rotation in May, and went 4-0 with a 1.74 ERA in his first five starts. After his fast start, however, Germano went 3-10 with a 5.28 ERA in 21 games the rest of the way. The right-hander finished 7-10 with a 4.46 ERA.
The Padres defeated Houston 3-2 on Thursday to win three of four against the Astros in a season-opening series.
Trevor Hoffman pitched a perfect ninth on Thursday, less than 24 hours after blowing the save and taking the loss by giving up four runs in the ninth inning of a 9-6 defeat.
“It’s a long season,” said Hoffman, baseball’s all-time saves leader with 526. “We don’t want to continue the overanalyzing of each individual save that comes out. This is a team sport.”
San Diego third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff hit a two-run homer on Thursday, and is 5-for-17 (.294) on the season. Kouzmanoff, who hit .317 after the All-Star break last season, batted .321 (18-for-56) with three home runs and eight RBIs in 17 games against the Dodgers in 2007.