Ex-Yankee Kuroda returns to Japan for 80 percent pay cut

Hiroki Kuroda, pictured pitching for the New York Yankees against the Toronto Blue Jays in September 2014, has returned to play baseball in Japan after seven years in Major League Baseball (AFP Photo/Alex Goodlett)

Former New York Yankees pitcher Hiroki Kuroda returned to Japan's Hiroshima Carp on Monday after seven years in Major League Baseball and having taken a whopping 80 percent pay cut.

"It was tough in the majors," the 40-year-old told reporters when he was unveiled to local media. "Going over there and not speaking the language, playing 162 games a season -- on top of that and the physical challenge, I put a lot of pressure on myself to win games.

"But I feel like I'm home," added Kuroda, who accepted a huge reduction in wages to re-sign for the Japanese Central League club after a successful three-year spell in New York. "I felt like this was the right time to come home, and if I was coming back to Japan I wanted it to be with the Carp.

"In order to keep my edge I hope to be able to keep the form I showed in the majors and hopefully I can get my fans excited."

Kuroda, who pitched for Hiroshima from 1997 to 2007 before joining the Los Angeles Dodgers, has signed a one-year deal worth an estimated $3.3 million.

He was paid $16 million by the Yankees last season, when he went 11-9 with a 3.71 earned run average in 32 starts.

Kuroda, who won a bronze medal with Japan at the 2004 Athens Olympics, compiled a 79-79 record in seven MLB seasons with a 3.45 ERA.

"I experienced a lot of things I wouldn't have done in Japan," said Kuroda, who was met by a throng of around 100 Carp fans as he arrived at Hiroshima airport from Tokyo at the weekend.

"But I just felt that turning 40 I wouldn't be able to do the team justice what with the hard schedule in the majors.

"I'm nervous about being back but I feel I can cope with the pressure."