Japan's Kuroda out of Classic
Pitcher injures finger, replaced on roster by closer Kubota
FUKUOKA, Japan -- Japan became the first team in the World Baseball Classic to lose a player due to an injury directly related to the tournament.
Hiroshima Carp pitcher Hiroki Kuroda pulled out of the WBC on Saturday after injuring the index finger of his throwing hand in Friday's 7-0 win over the Nippon Professional Baseball All-Stars.
Kuroda -- a 15-game winner for the Carp in 2005 -- bruised his finger in the eighth inning, coming out after a shot off the bat of Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks outfielder Naoyuki Omura.
Kuroda barehanded Omura's hit on the fly, completing the throw to first in time, but the damage had been done.
Kuroda left the game with a finger injury, and after the game, he went for X-rays, which were negative.
Kuroda is expected to take a week off before returning to the Carp.
Although it cost Kuroda the chance to play in the Classic, he -- who along with Texas Rangers pitcher Akinori Otsuka was one of Japan's main setup pitchers -- likely won't suffer long-term effects from the injury.
Hanshin Tigers closer Tomoyuki Kubota, one third of the CL Champion Tigers' vaunted "JFK" bullpen, took Kuroda's place on Japan's roster. Kubota was 5-4 with a 2.12 ERA and 27 saves in 68 appearances last season for Hanshin.
Stephen Ellsesser is a reporter for The Japan Times and a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.