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Hiroki Kuroda, Yankees agree to $15 million deal

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Hiroki Kuroda, Yankees agree to $15 million deal

NEW YORK (AP) Trying to get under baseball's luxury tax by 2014, the New York Yankees don't mind spending big as long as it's on one-year deals.

New York filled one of the slots in its rotation Tuesday, agreeing to a $15 million, one-year contract with No. 2 starter Hiroki Kuroda as they await a decision from Andy Pettitte on whether he wants to return in 2013.

``It something that I think fits how we've operated here in the last number of years, to do short-term circumstances on high-end players,'' Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.

The Yankees will pay the luxury tax on high payrolls for the 10th straight season this year and will hand over more tax money in 2013. But they say they want to get under 2014's threshold of $189 million, which would enable them to get some of their revenue-sharing dollars back. That's why a one-year deal made sense for Kuroda, a right-hander who turns 38 in February.

He was the Yankees' most consistent pitcher during the regular season. He went 16-11, tying for the team lead in wins, and led New York with 33 starts and 219 2-3 innings.

Cashman called the agreement ``a relief.''

``Hiroki Kuroda chose us on a lesser deal last year and I suspect he's done the same again this year,'' Cashman said. ``By coming here, I suspect that he left money on the table. I suspect it was a very aggressive market on him, and I think it is a reflection of he really enjoyed playing here for this city, for this team, for this organization and with these teammates to come back under the circumstances he's coming back on.''

After losing six of his first nine decisions, Kuroda finished with a 3.32 ERA that was second among New York starters behind Pettitte's 2.87.

``I am very happy and excited to re-sign with the Yankees,'' Kuroda said in a statement. ``I am very grateful for all of the interest and all of the offers that I received from the various teams that courted me. It was a tough decision for me to make, but at the end of the day, I wanted to try to win a championship with the teammates that I went to battle with last season.''

Kuroda joined the Yankees after four seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, was given a $10 million base salary last season and earned $1 million more in performance bonuses based on innings. He turned down a $13.3 million qualifying offer from the Yankees, and he would have cost a new team a selection in June's amateur draft.

He joins CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova in the Yankees' projected starting rotation for next season, with David Phelps also a possibility.

Pettitte, who came out of retirement to rejoin the Yankees, hasn't decided whether he wants to play next year. Cashman won't say how long he'll wait.

``Of course, obviously, there's an answer to that question but not one I'm prepared to answer,'' he said.

NOTES: Kuroda can earn $500,000 in performance bonuses, $250,000 each for 190 and 210 innings. ... Cashman said SS Derek Jeter is progressing from surgery to repair his broken ankle. ``By opening day he's supposed to be ready and full speed,'' he said. ... Cashman is talking with Mariano Rivera about a new contract and doesn't have any concerns about the closer's recovery from a torn knee ligament. Rivera turns 43 next week. ``Mo's never failed. He's never had a failure in his career,'' Cashman said. ... RHP Michael Pineda, recovering from shoulder surgery, isn't being counted on for the start of the season. He threw on flat ground at Yankee Stadium last week. ``He had zip on it,'' Cashman said.

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Otto Porter's status in doubt for Game 6 against Raptors

Otto Porter's status in doubt for Game 6 against Raptors

There appears to be at least some chance the Wizards will be without starting small forward Otto Porter when they host the Toronto Raptors in Game 6 of their first round playoff series on Friday night in Washington.

Porter, 24, continues to deal with a right lower leg strain. The injury is located on the outside of his calf and will require further testing from the Wizards' medical staff to determine his status.

Head coach Scott Brooks addressed the media on Thursday and did not rule out an MRI.

"We don't know as of yet, but he's banged up. So, hopefully we will find out some good news and see how he feels tomorrow," Brooks said.

Porter first suffered the injury on April 10 against the Celtics in the Wizards' penultimate regular season game. He missed the regular season finale, but has appeared in all five games of the Wizards-Raptors series.

Brooks did not make it seem likely that Porter will miss Game 6, but expressed uncertainty.

"Anything is possible," he said. "We hope for the best."

Porter appeared hobbled in Game 5 and has at other times this series as well. After the first two games of the series, Brooks was asked about Porter's health and said that he was "100 percent." It's unclear if Porter suffered a setback in the time between, but clearly that isn't the case anymore.

Porter is averaging just 10.0 points in this series, down from his 14.7 per game season average. Ideally, the Wizards would be getting more than that from their third scoring option.

"We need Otto," Brooks said. "We need Otto to be more of a nine or 10-point scorer for us to win this series."

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If this year is going to be different, the Caps cannot go down 0-2 in the series again

If this year is going to be different, the Caps cannot go down 0-2 in the series again

In last year’s playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Capitals won two out of the last three games and three out of the last five…and still lost the series. That’s because they lost both Game 1 and Game 2 to fall into a 0-2 hole, much like they did against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round this season.

The Caps know if this year is going to be different, they cannot afford to fall into a similar hole again.

“It's always harder to dig yourself out of a hole,” head coach Barry Trotz said after Thursday’s morning skate. “You're room for error is a lot less and it wears on you.”

“If we've learned anything from last year, you lose two it's tough to climb out of that,” Jay Beagle said. “Then this year first round, lose two, it's tough to climb out. It makes the series really hard. You always feel like you're chasing and no room for error.”

It did not cost them against Columbus as Washington was able to rattle off four straight wins to advance to the second round. Overcoming a two-game hole against the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions, however, is a taller task.

For only the second time in franchise history, the Capitals were able to overcome a 0-2 series deficit when they did it against the Blue Jackets. That means it doesn’t happen very often.

Chances are you won’t be able to overcome a deficit like that against Sidney Crosby and Co.

And that’s what makes Game 1 so important.

Washington is at home, opening a series against their arch rival, the Penguins will be without both Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin and the game will be played with the memory of how a 0-2 hole cost the Caps the series last year.

To call it a must-win would perhaps be an overstatement. It is a best of seven after all. But it’s still not that far off.

“We've got to just make sure we're looking at game one, we're not looking ahead,” Beagle said. “We've got to go after them in this first game and really try and take it to them in our rink.”

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