By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hiroki Kuroda has been named the New York Yankees starting pitcher for Sunday's second game of the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers in what will be the quickest turnaround of his career.
Kuroda, 37, started Game Three of the Division Series against the Baltimore Orioles, allowing just two runs in eight and one-third innings, and will toe the rubber against Detroit's Anibal Sanchez with just three days rest.
"This is probably the shortest rest that I have ever had in my baseball career, but at this point of the season, we can't really be talking about anything but to win," Kuroda said through an interpreter before Saturday's opener.
Kuroda was accustomed to pitching on five or six days rest in his 11 seasons in Japan's professional league before joining the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008, where he worked on the routine Major League schedule of pitching on four days rest.
The Japanese pitcher was a workhorse for the Yankees in his first season in New York, compiling a 16-11 record with an earned run average of 3.32.
A compacted playoff schedule arranged to accommodate the introduction of a wildcard playoff game this season, did not provide a rest day between series, leading New York manager Joe Girardi to bring Kuroda back on short rest.
"I am not crazy about it, but there is not really a lot I can do about it so we have to live with it," Girardi said about asking Kuroda to make a quick turnaround.
"The extra wildcard was added, and this is a function of that because the TV schedule was set. We all know the importance of growing our game and the TV schedule. So we've got to deal with it."
Kuroda said he had anticipated he would be asked to start once he saw Andy Pettitte listed as the opening game starter.
"There was no surprise there. I just looked at the rotation and that was my turn," he said. "If that's going to be beneficial to the team, I'm glad to do it."
Girardi said he was confident in Kuroda.
"(At) this time of year guys feel a little bit fresher," the manager said, adding that the cooler weather helps the pitchers. "He's determined to go.
"Sometimes you look into people's eyes and you see, their eyes also tell you a lot about how they are feeling, and if they are ready to go."
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)
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