TAMPA, Fla. -- Hiroki Kuroda has made more difficult transitions than switching from the National League to the American League.
Kuroda, 37, has moved from Japanese professional baseball to the Major Leagues, and he's adjusted to American culture after living most of his life in Japan. He had to learn about the concept of tipping at restaurants, for example, because he said that's not something they do in Japan.
"On a personal level, there were many adjustments that I had to make," Kuroda said through a translator. "But when you're in Rome, do what the Romans do. That's pretty much what I did."
After joining the Dodgers in 2008 and playing in Los Angeles for four years, Kuroda has already made a positive impression on his new club.
Kuroda threw a "very impressive" bullpen session Thursday morning, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, and the club is excited about what Kuroda brings to the table. Girardi often mentions Kuroda's veteran presence as well as his impressive stuff that covers both sides of the plate. He's already pitched in a big market with the Dodgers, too, so the pressure of playing in New York shouldn't be especially overwhelming.
As an added bonus, Kuroda will be throwing to Russell Martin, a former Dodgers teammate who helped him get acclimated in Los Angeles.
"He's the first catcher that caught me when I came to the States, and he knows what kind of pitcher I am, what kind of pitches I have," Kuroda said. "He's one of those great catchers that helps all the pitchers. He calls a really good game, so he's been a good help for me."