Dodgers’ Hiroki Kuroda returns to site of scary moment

Reporting from Phoenix -- When Hiroki Kuroda takes the mound for the Dodgers at Chase Field on Wednesday night, it will be his first visit back to the spot where he endured a frightening injury last year.

The Japanese right-hander was pitching to the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Rusty Ryal in the sixth inning Aug. 15 when Ryal lined the ball directly back at Kuroda, striking him just above his right ear. Kuroda, who never lost consciousness, fell to the ground and was rushed to the hospital.

The ball struck Kuroda with such force that it deflected behind home plate and bounced into the stands, giving Ryal a ground-rule double.

But Kuroda escaped serious injury — “I just feel lucky to be alive,” he said the next day — and Tuesday he said he hadn’t given the incident much thought ahead of his return to Phoenix.

“You just have to keep pitching aggressively,” Kuroda said through an interpreter. “The ball hit me in the head, you can’t really change that. At the same time, I’m going to be playing baseball more in the future” and possible moments like that are “something I can’t avoid.”

“If something happens on the field, it happens,” he said. “I’m just going to keep going forward.”

Kuroda, 35, said he “intentionally” watched video replays of the accident several times because “I just wanted to see how I was hit.”

“I don’t really have any fear about watching the video because when you’re on the mound, you’re a different person,” he said. “I could be really objective about watching the video.”

Speaking of Kuroda

Kuroda is among a handful of foreign-born Dodgers pitchers who uses an interpreter when he’s talking to reporters.

So what happens when catcher Russell Martin or pitching coach Rick Honeycutt visits the mound for a quick chat during a game? What language is spoken?

Mostly English, Martin said.

“They understand baseball terms [in English], like if you’re trying to get something across as far as a game plan,” he said. “They’ve heard it all for a while.

“If you ask them a question and the answer is going to be in the paper, they probably want to make sure it’s 100% right” and so they use an interpreter, he said.

Is there ever a fear that what’s said on the mound isn’t 100% understood by everyone?

“No, there’s never any doubt,” Martin said.

Kuo wants more

Reliever Hong-Chih Kuo, who came off the disabled list three weeks ago, pitched another scoreless inning against the Diamondbacks on Monday night and is hungry to pitch more, Manager Joe Torre said.

“He’s been lobbying to take the wraps off,” Torre said. “I’m glad he feels that good.”

Kuo, who was on the disabled list because of soreness in his throwing elbow, gave up two earned runs when he returned April 22. But in five appearances since then, the left-hander had not given up a run and had surrendered only one hit before Tuesday’s game.

And finally

The Dodgers said individual game tickets would not be available for the team’s series with the New York Yankees June 25-27 at Dodger Stadium. Seating will be limited to season-ticket holders and those buying seven-game “mini plans” and other multi-game plans.

Buy Dodgers tickets here

Clicking on Green Links will take you to a third-party e-commerce site. These sites are not operated by the Los Angeles Times. The Times Editorial staff is not involved in any way with Green Links or with these third-party sites.