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Report: Kuroda, who suffered neck pain this winter, now claims to be OK

February 17, 2010 | 10:33 pm
Kuroda A year ago, Hiroki Kuroda was coming off a solid, if not impressive first season for the Dodgers. He was named the team’s opening-day starter. He was their de facto ace.

But injuries kept sidetracking his 2009 season, and it seemed the Dodgers never got a good, long view of what he could do.

He returned after being hit on the head by a frightening line drive last summer, and after believing he had healed, discovered during winter workouts his neck remained painful.

Kuroda told Ken Gurnick in a lengthy interview at that he now believes an unusual method of acupuncture has finally healed the neck. Instead of a single needle, his treatment used a cylindrical device with several needles.

Despite the apparent success of the treatment, Kuroda remains a serious question mark and concern in a rotation that doesn’t appear can handle many.

Kuroda told Gurnick he believes the slight herniation of a disk in his neck was the result of a whiplash reaction to the line drive off his head Aug. 15.

He finished last season 8-7 with a 3.76 ERA in 21 starts, walking only 24 in 117 1/3 innings. His last start, however, was a miserable outing in the playoffs against the Phillies.

The Dodgers very much need a consistent, reliable Kuroda this season. This for a right-hander who is 35 and coming off a season when he battled three different injuries.

Kuroda will be one Dodger watched closely when the team reports to camp Saturday and has its first workout with pitchers and catchers on Sunday.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Hiroki Kuroda. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times