Martin confident in Kuroda's abilities

Martin confident in Kuroda's abilities

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees want Hiroki Kuroda to provide a steady veteran presence in their rotation, and it's a challenge that catcher Russell Martin believes the right-hander will have no problem meeting.

"Having me here kind of gives him that comfort zone," said Martin, who worked with Kuroda with the Dodgers from 2008-10. "I think the toughest transition for him was when he went from Japan to L.A., the first transition to the Major Leagues.

"He's pitched in Interleague, he's pitched against American League teams before, so he knows how it works. He's a veteran guy; he'll adapt."

Martin said that Kuroda, 37, has proven himself as a "tremendous" competitor and that the key for the Yankees -- who signed him to a one-year, $10 million deal in January -- will be keeping him healthy.

"He knows me -- not just my pitches, but he knows my personality," Kuroda said of Martin, via an interpreter. "It's going to be a really big help."

Kuroda went 13-16 with a 3.07 ERA in 32 starts for Los Angeles last year. Martin said that Kuroda reaches up to 95 mph with good two-seam sinking action on his fastball, also featuring a cutter, curveball, slider and a split-fingered fastball that serves as a strikeout pitch.

"He's got good command and you'll see, he's pretty good," Martin said.