TAMPA, Fla. -- Hiroki Kuroda was the Yankees' best pitcher for most of last season, but he was able to fly under the radar on Saturday, coming out of the bullpen in the third inning and overshadowed by the spring debuts of CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka.
"I don't get to relieve much, so today was quite an experience for me," said Kuroda, who pitched the third and fourth innings of New York's 4-0 win over the Phillies. "And to have Tanaka follow me, it was an overall good day."
Kuroda turned in arguably the sharpest outing of those three pitchers, limiting Philadelphia to a single with two strikeouts. He threw 11 of 17 pitches for strikes, and said that his sinker and two-seamers were working well.
The outing was so efficient, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, that they had to send Kuroda to finish up with more pitches in the bullpen so he would reach his prescribed count of 35.
"From the hitters' reactions, I could tell that the ball was moving well," Kuroda said.
Kuroda said that he could not recall his first spring outing with the Dodgers seven years ago, but it's safe to say it was less hyped than Tanaka's debut. Kuroda said that he had been impressed by Tanaka.
"The biggest thing was he looked calm up there, and the command was there. So he looked good," Kuroda said.
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.