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Cashman: Kuroda interested in Yankees return

Cashman: Kuroda interested in Yankees return

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Cashman: Kuroda interested in Yankees return

NEW YORK -- Hiroki Kuroda not only intends to continue pitching in 2014, but the right-hander is interested in a third season with the Yankees, according to general manager Brian Cashman.

"He wants to come back," Cashman said on Thursday at Yankee Stadium. "He's going to pitch, but whether he's going to pitch here or Japan or somewhere else here [in the United States], I don't know yet. All indications are he is definitely interested in coming back to the Yankees. That's the indication, but there's no guarantee."

Speaking after the Yankees introduced catcher Brian McCann to the media, managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner mentioned Kuroda while running down the team's list of top offseason priorities.

"I think at this point, we've added a great catcher," Steinbrenner said. "We need more hitting, we know that. That was our Achilles' heel to a certain extent, not to mention injuries, last year.

"We need more hitting, but we also haven't signed Kuroda, he's still out there. There's a few other pitchers out there. We're not done with pitching, one way or the other, that's for sure. We need another bat or two."

The Yankees made Kuroda a contract offer in recent weeks and are waiting for a response. It is believed to be close to the one-year, $15 million pact that he worked under this past season. Kuroda, who prefers to work on a one-year commitment, was 11-13 with a 3.31 ERA in 32 starts.

"We have a need for starting pitching, and I would love to retain Kuroda," Cashman said. "I have maintained dialogue with Steve Hilliard, his agent. We've had a great relationship and healthy dialogue so far. I believe he wants to come back, and we're trying to make that happen, but I have nothing to show for that yet."

Retaining Kuroda would solidify a rotation that Cashman said needs 400 more innings. Kuroda has exceeded 200 innings in each of the past three seasons, including a career-high 219 2/3 innings in his first Yankees campaign in 2012.

CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova are the only locks for the rotation at the moment. The mix could also include David Phelps and Adam Warren, as well as Michael Pineda, who has not thrown a big league pitch for the Yankees but is said to finally be healthy.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that there are several items likely weighing on Kuroda's mind right now.

"I think there are some family dynamics that are important to Hiroki," Girardi said. "And there are some decisions he has to make concerning that and how much longer he really wants to pitch. It physically gets harder for these guys year after year after year, and that's a decision he has to make."

Kuroda was 14-10 with a 2.33 ERA in his first 24 starts of the season before going into a mid-August tailspin. He was 0-6 with a 6.56 ERA in his final eight starts of the season, which Girardi attributed to "wear and tear, and us maybe having to push him a little harder than we wanted to."

Girardi said that workload would not scare him off leaning on Kuroda heavily again next season.

"I would hope not. I think he'll be OK," Girardi said. "He seemed to respond pretty well coming back last year."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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