Hiroki Kuroda Really Doesn’t Enjoy Playing Baseball, But He’s Ready for the Playoffs Anyway

Hiroki Kuroda Really Doesn't Enjoy Playing Baseball, But He's Ready for the Playoffs AnywayThe New York Yankees can clinch the American League East title on Wednesday night with a win, and they're going to hand the ball to a man who really doesn't enjoy baseball all that much.

Time will tell whether or not that will be a good thing, but Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda had some interesting things to say about the game of baseball recently. And while he may not actually hate hardball, it's clear that his past has shaped the way he looks at the game.

"To be honest with you," he told The New York Times through an interpreter, "I never enjoyed playing baseball. I never enjoyed pitching, to be honest with you. Whether it's a spring training game or a regular-season game, I don't like to put any added pressure on myself. I like to be as normal as I can in that atmosphere."

The New York atmosphere isn't necessarily what wears on Kuroda — it's just being on a mound in general.

"This is not just because it's the Yankees," he said, according to the Times. "This has been throughout my professional career. There has been a lot of responsibility on a starting pitcher. Rather than enjoy myself out there, I have to fulfill my responsibility, and that's my top priority."

Of course, pitching the Yankees to the division title is pretty inconsequential compared to what Kuroda endured growing up as a baseball player in Japan. 

"In order to play, you had to survive," he was quoted as saying in a New York Times profile in July. "We were trained to build an immune system so that we could survive and play."

So yeah, when you're trying to survive in order to play, the game doesn't seem as important. Even so, Kuroda is ready to accept the challenge.

Kuroda is 1-0 in four starts this season against the Red Sox with a 3.86 ERA.